Separate jail demanded for jehadis in Assam

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Guwahati, Jul 31 (UNI) As jehadi activities grew in Assam at an alarming rate, the demand for a separate prison for arrested jehadis has emerged, with apprehensions that they could be engaged in recruiting criminals for fundamentalist groups.

''There are about 240 jehadis in Assam jails. They could easily recruit ordinary criminals they meet in the prisons and the jehadis' strength could go to 24,000 in 10 years,'' Mr Abhijit Sharma, Managing Director of Assam Public Works (APW) said here today, raising a demand for a separate jail for jehadis and senior ULFA leaders who refuse to seek bail.

Referring to ULFA 'vice-president' Pradip Gogoi, who has been languishing in prison for 11 years, Mr Sharma said, ''Such militant leaders who are using the jail for recruiting for their groups should be kept separately from the other criminals.'' Pointing to the High Court's observation that certain political parties were safeguarding illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators for political gains, the APW urged the Court to name the parties and sought strict action against them.

Highlighting the graveness of the infiltration problem, APW secretary Bitu Talukdar said, ''Bangladesh's voters' list has shown a negative trend compared to Assam's alarmingly growing voters.'' Quoting from a book on the issue, he informed that Assam had 63 lakh voters in 1991, which went up to 1.90 crore in 1996 and is now 2.25 crore. The state has registered an average annual rise of 21 per cent in case of voters while the national average is 2.5 per cent.

On the other hand, Bangladesh has witnessed a negative trend, Mr Talukdar said, adding that the number of voters went down from 6.21 crore in 1991 to 5.60 crore in 1995.

While focusing on the serious threat posed by infiltration and jehadis to the state as well as the country, the APW stressed on the need to protect the indigenous Muslims of the state.

''The Muslim community is an integral part of the Assamese society and their contributions and sacrifices have been immense.

The entire community should not be maligned because of handful of people,'' Mr Sharma said.

He also urged the Muslims to help in identifying the miscreants.

The APW demanded action not only against Muslim infiltrators, but also against infiltrators of any other religious community who have entered the state unauthorisedly.

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