Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday that he intends to close all madrassas in the state, NDTV reported.

He made the statement while addressing a rally in Karnataka’s Belagavi district. Assembly elections in the state are scheduled to be held by May.

“Recently in a TV interview in Delhi, I was asked what my intention was in having shut down 600 madrassas,” Sarma said, according to PTI. “I said that I have shut 600, but my intention is to shut all madrassas.”

The chief minister remarked that new India needs schools, colleges and universities, rather than madrassas.

“I come from Assam, where everyday people arrive from Bangladesh,” he claimed. “There is a threat to our culture and traditions.”

Sarma said that a large number of citizens in the country state with pride that they are Muslims or Christians. “I have no objections, but we want people who will with pride say, ‘I’m a Hindu’,” he said.

The Assam chief minister also alleged that the Congress party represents the “new Mughals”. He remarked: “Earlier, Mughals tried to weaken India, and now Congress is doing it. Congress people are today’s new Mughals...they have an objection to Ram Mandir. Are you [Congress] children of Mughals? Why do you speak in favour of Babri Masjid and not for Ram Mandir?”

Action against madrassas in Assam

The 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.

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.

In January, the state police chief said that over 100 small madrassas in the state have been merged with larger ones to prevent religious radicalisation of students.