Announcement of new SOP for the imams and religious teachers is being seen as another attempt by the BJP government there to deprive some Muslims of their right to earn their livelihood in any part of the country.
Syed Ali Mujtaba
GUWAHATI — Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made an announcement on Monday, August 22, 2022, that his government is preparing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the new Imams and Islamic teachers coming to the state from outside.
The government is preparing a portal to register the names of imam and Islamic teachers coming from outside, the Chief Minister said adding that the people and the law enforcement agencies have to keep a close vigil on such people.
Imams for the mosques and religious teachers for the madrasas usually come from Bihar and eastern UP to fill the vacancies in the mosques and Madarsa of Assam. They are Indian citizens and have valid ID proof. They go to Assam for earning their livelihood. The announcement of new SOP for the imams and religious teachers is being seen as another attempt by the BJP government there to deprive some Muslims of their right to earn their livelihood in any part of the country. These people merely render a service to their religion, and are far away from any anti-national activity.
Under the proposed SOP, Muslims in Assam are requested to inform the police as soon as an imam or preacher comes to their mosque or madrasa for religious purposes.
The Chief Minister said our objection is only against unfamiliar teachers and imams as they are using some madrassas and mosques as shelters for jihadi elements.
“The number of madrassas does not automatically signify the number of ‘jihadis’, but it is essential to keep a check on strangers,” he said.
Himanta Biswa Sarma has already closed 800 government-run madrassas in Assam in 2021. All government-run madrasas were abolished and over 620 such institutions were converted into general schools from April 1, 2021.
The Chief Minister had said that his government is holding consultations with all stakeholders of 1,500 private madrasas functional in the state. These include 800 ‘quomi madrassas’ and his government’s aim is to convert them into general schools.
Himanta Biswa Sarma was a lawyer at Guwahati High Court before entering politics. He joined the Congress in 2001 and was three-time MLA on its ticket. He was made a minister of state in the first Tarun Gogoi cabinet. He was inducted into the second Tarun Gogoi cabinet. He was upgraded to a cabinet minister and was even in the third cabinet of the Congress government before resigning from the Congress.
When Sarma was in the Congress, the BJP had upped the ante leveling huge corruption charges against him. The BJP had clinching evidence against Sarma to finish his political career. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also accused Sarma of corruption.
The Chief Minister, who is affectionately called ‘Mama’ by the voters in his Jalukbari constituency, did a somersault to join the BJP on 23 August 2015. All his sins were washed away when he agreed to relinquish his secular ideals which he practiced and preached during his days in the Congress and decided to champion the cause of Hindutva.
He led the BJP’s successful state election campaign in 2016 and was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister on 24 May 2016. The BJP appointed him the convener (leader) of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a regional sub-group of the federal National Democratic Alliance (NDA), aimed at increasing the party’s political strength in North-East India. He was sworn in as Chief Minister of Assam on 10 May 2021, succeeding former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Sarma’s recent accomplishment is helping Shiv Sena rebel Ekhnath Shinde to do a political surgical strike in Maharashtra by sheltering him and others in Guwahati, while Assam was reeling under massive floods.
Observers feel Sarma’s anti-Muslim agenda is his main stay in politics. He has categorised the 35 percent Muslim population as Assamese and Bengali-speaking people. Among them, only 4 percent are Assamese speaking, and the rest face an unknown future. His anti-Muslim agenda was galore in July 2021 when he constituted seven sub-committees to control the growing Muslim population in Assam.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org