Over 100 small madrassas in Assam have been merged with larger to prevent religious radicalisation of the students, the state police chief said on Monday, according to NDTV.

Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said that radicalisation usually takes place in smaller madrassas, or Islamic seminaries. He also claimed that Assam, with its sizeable Muslim population, is a “natural target” for such radicalisation, PTI reported.

“We are formulating a few rules,” Mahanta said. “Small madrassas, which have less than 50 students, will be merged with bigger ones. The Muslim community has helped us in this venture.”

The police chief said that under the proposed rules, only one madrassa will be allowed in the state in a three kilometres-radius.

Mahanta also said that a survey has been undertaken to prepare a database of all madrassas in the state. The survey, which is likely to be finished by January 25, will gather details about land ownership, number of teachers, students and the curriculum, he said.

Authorities in Assam have taken a belligerent stance on madrassas in recent months. In August, civic authorities demolished three madrassas after the police stepped up operations against alleged modules of banned Bangladesh-based terror outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team. The terror outfit is said to have links with Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had alleged that some Islamic seminaries were being used as hubs for terrorism. Local authorities in two cases had cited alleged violation of civic body norms as the reason for the demolition orders.

The state government has also made it mandatory for imams coming to Assam from other states to inform the local police and register themselves on a government portal. The government had directed private madrassas to provide all information about their institutions to the secondary education department by December 1, according to ANI.

Nine terror modules busted last year, say police

Meanwhile, Mahanta said that the police busted nine modules of Ansarullah Bangla Team and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and arrested 53 suspected terrorists in 2022, PTI reported.

“We have nipped the menace in the bud but the concern is there,” the director general of police said. “The police are always alert and coordinate with states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.”

Mahanta said that after several leaders of the terror outfits were executed following court orders in Bangladesh, some members of the organisations shifted base to Uttar Pradesh.

“Assam has been their target and some activists from Bangladesh, who are now absconding, had earlier visited the state as teachers in small and newly set up madrasas in a bid to radicalise the youth,” he claimed.