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Scan on madarsas in Barak Valley

Silchar, Oct. 15: Madarsas in Barak Valley and lower Assam have come under the scanner of both police and intelligence agencies following the arrest of nine suspected members of a fundamentalist group in the state allegedly involved in the Burdwan blast in Bengal.
State intelligence sources today said there was “no let-up in discreet probes that were being made into the activities of madarsas” in these areas.
“We had a breakthrough in the probe after we managed to establish links between a suspected fundamentalist, Saikhul Islam, who was arrested in Barpeta district, and Shakil Ahmed, alleged architect of a network of jihadis operating from Bengal,” a senior intelligence official told The Telegraph here.
Having received instructions from their offices in Guwahati, Cachar police, along with their counterparts in Karimganj and Hailakandi districts, had already begun compiling lists of both recognised and non-recognised madarsas in Barak Valley, the source said. The list is likely to be completed by next week.
The Centre, meanwhile, has asked Assam home department to step up its watch on some madarsas in the Karimganj district, particularly those located in Patherkandi block and Nilambazar police station areas that share a border with Bangladesh. The intelligence agencies are understood to have zeroed in on “some elements” in madarsas in Nilambazar area, about 19km from Karimganj, as the police believe they could be connected to the two banned Bangladesh-based terror outfits, the Harkat ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Bangladesh) and Jamat-ul-Mujaheedin, Bangladesh (JMB).
The Harkat is believed to have a core membership of about 12,000 activists in its nine branches across Bangladesh. The activities of the JMB, on the other hand, came to light in 2002, when Bangladesh police arrested eight of its members in Dinajpur district of the neighbouring country. The outlawed organisation that reportedly has nine ancillary bodies including the Harkat ul-Jihad, is active in Assam, according to the police. Security officials believe the outfit has set up a sleeper cell in Nilambazar.
Assam has four categories of madarsas. A pre-senior madarsa has students from Classes V to VII, while an Arabic college has students from Class V to post-graduation. A title madarsa provides two post-graduate degree courses while a senior madarsa comprises 10 classes, from pre-senior to Fadilul-Marif degree (graduation in Islamic studies).
Of the 633 madarsas recognised by the State Madrassa Board, 325 receive annual financial assistance from the government. Over 70 madarsas have been taken over by the government and receive funds annually.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) launched an agitation today against Dispur’s failure to prevent the rise of fundamentalist outfits.
The agitation, which was launched in the Upper Assam districts of Sivasagar and Lakhimpur, will continue till October 21.
Hundreds of protesters today took to the streets in Sivasagar demanding the government eliminate communal forces, including terrorist outfits, from Assam.
The protesters also demanded a permanent solution of the illegal migrants issue. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of al Qaida, had in a video recently declared the launch of the outfit’s Indian wing, targeting states such as Kashmir and Assam.