Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said on Sunday that 17 Bangladeshis from Biswanath district have been arrested for giving “religious preaching” in violation of tourist visa rules. However, so far no evidence has been found that they were involved in ‘radical propaganda’.
The DGP said there have been several instances of ‘mullahs’ from the neighboring country entering the state on tourist visas and indulging in religious preaching, including spreading fundamentalist ideals. Many such pracharaks have been banned from entering Assam.
Police had said that 17 Bangladeshis, including a ‘religious preacher’, were arrested from Baghmari area of Biswanath district on Saturday for violating visa norms. Of the 17 people, eight are currently in police remand, while the rest are in judicial custody. They had reached Vishwanath by bus from Cooch Behar district of West Bengal on 13 September.
The DGP said that the police had received tip-off about these 17 Bangladeshis organizing meetings in the river areas of Baghmari on Friday. He said that on investigation it was found that he was not in the area for any tourism related activity though he had come to India on a tourist visa.
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The top police officer said, “I am not saying that they were doing ‘radical propaganda’ but they were involved in some religious preaching which is against tourist visa norms. We have arrested him for violating visa rules at present and not for other offences. He said an investigation is underway.
“There is a tendency, especially in lower Assam and Barak Valley, to invite clerics on tourist visa to preach and some of them spread radical ideals,” the DGP said. He said that the Assam government had written to the Ministry of External Affairs about such people and many mullahs have been banned from the state for repeatedly violating visa rules. In this case, it’s still too early. But we will write (when the time comes).
On the progress of investigation into the recent jihadi activities in the state, the DGP said that strong cases are being made so that there is no lapse at any stage.