Authorities in the Goalpara district of Assam on Tuesday sealed a museum dedicated to the Miya Muslim community on allegations of wrongful use of the premises, officials told

Three community leaders, including the person who set up the museum, were also detained on Tuesday evening. They have been charged under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy and collecting arms with intention to wage war against the Union government.

Assam Miya Parishad President M Mohar Ali, who set up the museum, was picked up when he was sitting on a dharna, while the organisation’s general secretary, Abdul Baten Sheikh, was taken into custody from his residence in Alamganj of Dhubri district on Tuesday night, the police said, PTI reported.

Tanu Dhadumia, who had inaugurated the museum on Sunday, was detained from his home in Kawamari village in Dibrugarh, according to the police.

GP Singh, the special director general of Assam Police, wrote in a tweet that Ali and Sheikh will be questioned about their links with activities of terrorist outfits Ansarullah Bangla Team and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.

The Assam Police has arrested several persons and demolished three madrassas as part of its investigation into the the two terror groups.

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in Assam have been demanding that the Miya Museum located at Dapkarbhita in the Lakhipur area of Goalpara be shut down, reported The Hindu. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had also threatened legal action.

The museum contains antiquated items of the Miya community – marginalised Bengal-origin Muslims of the state who settled in Assam in the late 1890s after they were brought by the British for commercial farming.

In a notice dated October 24, the District Rural Development Agency of Goalpara stated that the house where the museum has been set up was handed over as part of the central government’s housing scheme Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

However, setting up a museum does not fall under the motive and guidelines of the scheme, the district administration stated. The authorities have asked the museum management to submit its response to the notice immediately to the local block development officer.

Later on Tuesday, Ali and Abdul Baten were taken into custody in a case registered last week in Ghograpar police station of Nalbari district. Three persons had been arrested in the case last week, officials told

Meanwhile, Ali along with his two minor sons, staged a sit-in protest outside the museum and demanded that it be reopened, reported PTI.

“We are displaying objects with which the community identifies itself so that people from other communities can realise that the Miyas are not any different from them”, Ali said.

Also read: From history to lungis: How this Assam politician is battling for a distinct Miya Muslim identity

Speaking to reporters earlier on Tuesday, Chief Minister Sarma had questioned the motive of setting up the museum as he said that the artefacts represented Assamese culture in general, and nothing specific to the Miya community, reported Northeast Live.

“They must prove to government that nangol [plough] is used only by Miya people and not others... otherwise case will be registered,” ANI quoted him as saying.

BJP MLA from eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh, Prasanta Phukan, had earlier said that the museum should be “brought down”, The Hindu reported on Tuesday.

Former BJP MLA Shiladitya Dev has demanded that the museum be closed down immediately and Assam should be saved from “Bangladeshi Muslims”, reported News18.

The museum was proposed by Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed in 2020. He had requested the state government to set it up at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, a centre in Guwahati showcasing the state’s cultural heritage.

The museum would reflect the culture and heritage of the communities living in the char-chaporis (sandbars or river islands), of Assam, he had said.

Sarma, who was the state’s Health and Education Minister at the time, had said that he would not allow such “distortion” of culture.

“In my understanding, there is no separate identity-and culture in Char Anchal of Assam as most of the people had migrated from Bangladesh,” Sarma had tweeted in 2020. “Obviously, in Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakhetra, which is the epitome of Assamese culture, we will not allow any distortion.”