How do you qualify to be in a madarsa for boys? If you are Mahmudul Haq, by studying in an all-girls’ school.
Haq, 18, had obtained a transfer certificate (TC) from Paschim Dagaon Balika Vidyalaya under Juria police station in central Assam’s Nagaon district to get into the Madarsa-e-Islamia at Melamati near Titabor town in Jorhat district. Titabor is chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s pet constituency.
Haq was 18 when the school’s headmistress Sultana Begum issued the TC issued on December 31, 2002. His age remained constant when the police began probing the antecedents of 127 inmates – 112 students and 15 teachers – sometime back.
Haq would have remained a ‘transsexual’ had Mokhtar Ahmed, former general secretary of the madarsa’s managing committee, not lodged a complaint against the religious institution at the Titabor police station in April. In that complaint, Ahmed and 53 others claimed the madarsa was a den of anti-national activities and housed fundamentalists and jihadis.
“We took the complaint lightly at first, as allegations against madarsas are fairly commonplace. But things unfolded as we dug deeper and found many of the inmates were of suspected nationality,” a senior police officer told HT from Titabor. “Inputs from the Border Police revealed 12 of them are not Indians.”
Haq, though, is not among those suspected to be a Bangladeshi national. But madarsa authorities confirmed his TC as a fake and promised necessary action.
Ironically, many of the inmates with doubtful nationality were inducted between May 11, 2008 and January 11 this year. “Those who ran the committee including the main complainant know better about the suspects,” said Rezaul Yasin, who took over as president of the new management committee on March 11.
Yasin, however, had claimed last month that the madarsa had no foreign nationals studying or teaching in it. What complicated matters was the mysterious disappearance of 25 students after the police their probe.
The glare on Madarsa-e-Islamia has meanwhile evoked demands of investigation against madarsas, particularly those that have sprung up along the Indo-Bangladesh border over the past couple of decades. “Given the sensitivity of the migrants issue, it’s time for the government to act against doubtful institutes,” said All Assam Students Union president Sankar Prasad Roy.
Intelligence agencies believe madarsas and mosques along the border are safe havens for members of 39 fundamentalist groups such as Jagrata Muslim Janata of Bangladesh, Hizbat Tauhidi, al-Harat-al-Islami, Jamatul Falaiya, Jaish-e-Mustafa Bangladesh, al-Jihad Bangladesh and Rohingiya Patriotic Front.