Dehradun: Uttarakhand’s new Waqf Board chairman Shadaab Shams wants the Pushkar Singh Dhami government to follow Uttar Pradesh’s example and conduct a survey of the state’s unregistered madrasas.
Shams, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who was elected unopposed to the position last week, told ThePrint in an interview that the Waqf Board will make an official representation before the state government soon to identify madrasas that are not affiliated to it or the Uttarakhand Madarsa Board (UMB) — the regulatory body for institutions of Islamic learning.
The Waqf Board and the UMB are the two state bodies that govern madrasas. Each has jurisdiction over the madrasas that come under it.
“Taking a leaf out of the UP government’s book, we’ll conduct a survey of madrasas functioning in Uttarakhand. This will include those affiliated to the UMB or Waqf Board as well as madrasas that are not registered with either of the two government bodies,” Shams said.
The aim, he further said, is to prepare a database of unregistered madrasas functioning in the state and find out why they aren’t registered with the board. The exercise is also aimed at identifying government-aided madrasas that need an upgrade, he added.
Madrasas that not registered with either the state waqf board or UMB will be given an ultimatum — either get registered or be disbanded.
“No unregistered madrasa will be allowed to function in Uttarakhand, no matter what. I have spoken to the CM. Soon, a formal proposal will be submitted to him for a survey,” said the Waqf Board chief.
The development comes two months after Dhami’s government warned government-aided madrasas to either get affiliated with the state board of education or face action.
Shams also said that security cameras will be installed in mosques and madrasas in the state to check “unlawful activities, if any”.
According to the Waqf Board’s estimates, Uttarakhand currently has 522 registered madrasas (419 with UMB and 103 with Waqf Board), while nearly the same number of madrasas are unregistered.
On 31 August, the UP government under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered a survey to identify unrecognised madrasas and gather details such as organisations running them, curriculum, and source of income. The development has sparked a political row, with the opposition claiming that the exercise was meant to harass Muslims living in the state.
Upgraded learning, better infrastructure
Shams claimed that the new board plans to integrate madrasa learning with mainstream education. This means including subjects like maths and science in the madrasa education system: “Madrasas in Uttarakhand will now incorporate mainstream subjects like sciences, mathematics, and languages like Hindi and English. They will be converted into proper schools and modernised with smart classes and education systems.”
The plan is to allow religious teachings for four hours each — two in the morning and two in the evening — while regular classes will be held from 8 am to 2 pm.
The proposal, which is still in the pipeline, will first be implemented with the 103 madrasas affiliated with the Waqf Board and will be eventually replicated in UMB institutions, Shams said.
The board also has plans to upgrade madrasas — not only in terms of the curriculum but also its infrastructure. For this, the Waqf Board has at its disposal large amounts of funds — mostly through donations — and properties, he added.
Shams also claimed that the board will set up centres for higher education for madrasa students: “These centres will be in the form of ITIs and other vocational and skill development centres so that madrasa students can have better means of employment.”
According to the board’s records, the Uttarakhand Waqf Board had properties worth nearly Rs 3 lakh crore, he said, adding: “Rehmania Madrasa in Roorkee will be developed as model minority study centre equipped with smart classes, adequate teaching staff and other modern infrastructural facilities.”
CCTV cameras in mosques, doing away with loudspeakers
Madrasas and mosques under the state waqf board will be fitted with security cameras, Shams said. “CCTV cameras will be installed in madrasas and all 709 mosques managed by the state waqf board, with remote control at local police stations. It’s aimed at preventing unlawful activities and maintaining transparency in the mosques.”
New mosques will not have any loudspeakers, and efforts will be made to remove them from the existing ones as well, he said. The move is significant, especially given the controversy surrounding loudspeakers that rocked two states — Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra — earlier this year.
The board is also working on plans to open shelter homes for the elderly who have been “abandoned” by their families, said Shams.
Called “Second Inning” homes, residents of these shelters can go back to their families when they want, he added.
The BJP leader said that although the board had enough properties to fund its own activities, several of them had been encroached upon. For this, the board will most likely begin an anti-encroachment drive on 17 September, he said. First up is the 14 bighas of waqf land in Dehradun, which Shams claims has been encroached upon “for years”.
“The new board will have its first meeting on 15 September and finalise the anti-encroachment drive,” he said, adding: “This [the drive] will set an example for other waqf boards in the country to free their lands too.”
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)