Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta on Sunday said the 17 Bangladeshis arrested from Biswanath district were held for indulging in “religious preaching” in violation of tourist visa norms.
However, there has been no evidence as yet to indicate that they were involved in “radicalisation preaching”, the top police officer said.
There had been several instances of ‘mullahs’ from the neighbouring country entering the state on tourist visas and engaging themselves in religious preaching, including spreading radical ideals, the DGP said.
Many such preachers have been banned from entering Assam, Mr. Mahanta said.
Seventeen Bangladeshis, including a "religious preacher", were arrested from the Baghmari area in Biswanath district on Saturday on charges of violating visa norms, police had said.
Of the 17 people, eight are currently in police remand, while the rest are in judicial custody.
They had reached Biswanath on September 13 by bus from Cooch Behar district in West Bengal.
Mr. Mahanta said the police had a tip-off about congregations being organised by these 17 Bangladeshis in the riverine areas of Baghmari on Friday.
Upon investigation, it was learnt that they were not in the area for any tourism-related activity though they had entered India on tourist visas, the DGP said.
“I am not saying that they were doing ‘radicalisation preaching’, but they were involved in some religious preaching, which is against tourist visa norms. We have arrested them on charges of violating visa norms and not for other offences at the moment,” the top officer said.
An investigation is underway, he said.
“There is a tendency, especially in Lower Assam and Barak Valley, to invite maulvis on tourist visas for preaching and some of them spread radical ideals,” the DGP said.
The Assam government had written to the Ministry of External Affairs, which deals with the issuance of visas, about such people and many mullahs have been banned from the state for repeatedly violating the visa norms, he said.
“In this case, it is still too early. But we will write (when the time comes),” he added.
On the progress of the investigation into the recent jihadi activities in the State, the DGP said strong cases were being built so that no loopholes were left at any stage.