Around 250 young men were given training on how to handle arms such as small guns, and in July at a camp organised by Rashtriya Bajrang Dal in Dhubri in Assam. The training also included ideological orientation and hand-to-hand combat. The trainees were aged between 18 and 30. Led by Praveen Togadia, Rashtriya Bajrang Dal claims to have recruited 50,000 youths in Assam.
While talking exclusively to India Today NE, Nilav Ritu, Vice President of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal acknowledged that the training indeed took place and it was done to counter the security threat posed by alleged illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The objective of the camp was to combat suspected Jihadis and to remain prepared for a civil strife-like situation.
“Dhubri is a hotbed of doubtful citizens. The maximum border crossing happens there. I am not talking about indigenous Muslims, they are part and parcel of our society, but recently, the Jihadi network has started growing. The training camp has been initiated if all of a sudden we are caught like sitting ducks tomorrow, we will be prepared to face the worst after this training. That’s why we have taken the initiative to train youths and make them physically and mentally tough. If somehow a civil strike-like situation arises, we need to be prepared for the worst. We have not used any real firearms, just used airguns to train them on how to target. Apart from that, the youth are trained in martial arts, ideological orientation, and face-to-face close combat. Training is also given to individuals to face hostile situations,” he said.
Dhubri, one of the western border districts of Assam near the Indo-Bangla border, comprises nearly 80 per cent of the Muslim population near the Indo-Bangla border. In 1971, Dhubri’s Muslim population was 64 per cent. Many attribute this growth in the Muslim population to illegal immigration from Bangladesh. The district’s decadal population growth between 2001 and 2011 is 24 percent, the highest in Assam.
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