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Modernisation, or harassment? Why survey on unrecognised madrasas is fuelling row in UP

The UP Madrasa Shiksha Parishad chairman claims several madrasas that got recognition earlier never existed. But an activist asserts such surveys can end up in spiking corruption.

File photo of a madrasa in Uttar Pradesh | PTI
File photo of a madrasa in Uttar Pradesh | PTI

Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government’s decision to launch a survey to identify the unrecognised madrasas and gather details such as organisations running them, curriculum and source of income has sparked a political row, with the opposition alleging that the exercise was meant to harass the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.

There are 16,513 recognised madrasas with about 20 lakh students in the state, according to the Uttar Pradesh Madrasa Shiksha Board.

However, a report by The New Indian Express said that rough estimates suggest that there are around 40,000-50,000 private madrasas in India’s most populous state.

In its order issued on 30 August, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has asked all the district magistrates (DMs) to start a survey of the unrecognised madrasas in their jurisdictions and gather details including the name of organisation running them, the location of madrasas, the year of establishment, whether the building is suitable for students, curriculum, source of income, etc.

The DMs will also submit details whether the madrasas are affiliated with any governmental or non-governmental organisation, any charges against the organisation and whether or not its students are enrolled in another school.

In the order, Shakeel Ahmed Siddiqui, a deputy secretary in the UP government, has directed all DMs to constitute a committee each comprising of the sub-divisional magistrate of a tehsil, the basic shiksha adhikari and the minority welfare officer by September 9 for conducting the survey.

“The committee will function under the supervision of the ADM (administration) to whom it will submit a report of the survey by October 5. The ADM (administration) will submit its report to the DM by October 10 who will further share the data with the government by October 25,” states the order.

ThePrint has a copy of the letter.

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Why the survey?

The Uttar Pradesh government maintains that the objective behind the survey is to get data of the number of unrecognized madrasas running in the state.

UP Madrasa Shiksha Parishad chairman Iftikhar Ahmed Javed told ThePrint that while 16,513 madrasas are recognised by the Parishad, 560 of them get grants from the state government.

“In 2018, when an online portal was started to fill in the data of madrasas, between 2.500 and 3,000 madrasas were found existing only in papers. It means that several madrasas got recognition without existing in reality,” he said.

“We don’t have the number of madrasas functioning without recognition. When a violation of child rights takes place, fingers are pointed at the government. We want to know the number of such madrasas, their status, the number of students and teachers, whether or not they have facilities required for children as per the NCPCR [National Commission for Protection of Child Rights] rules.”

Javed added that new rules would be formulated for granting recognition for madrasas after going through the findings of the survey.

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Owaisi, opposition fume

Last week, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the exercise was not a survey but a “mini-NRC” and hit out at the UP government for “harassing Muslims” stating that the government cannot interfere with their rights under Article 30 of the Constitution.

Samajwadi Party spokesperson Manoj Singh Kaka told ThePrint that the Constitution states in its Preamble that the government should follow equality of religion.

He also accused the ruling BJP of trying to create a Hindu-Muslim divide in Uttar Pradesh.

“The question is not about modernisation of madrasas. It is about how to defame and target a community, which is connected with us for hundreds of years… If the BJP government is really concerned about the Muslims, why did it not give a single ticket to the community in any of the 403 seats in the assembly polls? Why has it marginalised the community so much? …Give them seats and improve the situation of the primary schools where children are yet to get books,” he said.

UP Congress media and communication wing chairperson Naseemuddin Siddiqui said that the government should take action against all madrasas, schools and educational institutions which got recognition illegally.

“First, it has to be checked, what are the rules. If a madrasa has got recognition against rules, action should be taken against them but there should be no out of the way action. Not only madrasas, all schools, educational institutions should be viewed from the same eye,” he said.

In Prayagraj, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya told mediapersons Sunday that the survey does not have any wrong objective and is taking place so that children studying here can become doctors, engineers, IAS and IPS officers and don’t become the means for any wrong activity.

Minister of State, Minority Welfare, Danish Raza told ThePrint that the opposition was merely indulging in politics.

“We are trying to ensure modernisation of madrasas by introducing the NCERT [National Council of Educational Research and Training] curriculum, etc. The Samajwadi Party and Owaisi are indulging in politics. The Muslims now know that only the BJP government under Yogiji is taking steps for their betterment,” he said.

Lucknow-based activist Zameer Naqvi, who had filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court alleging corruption in the functioning of madrasas, told ThePrint that surveys like this can end up resulting in “increase in corruption”.

“Surveys hardly ever do anything positive for the system. Such surveys can only end up increasing the possibility of corruption as give and take of money usually follows allegations of lack of papers,” he said.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

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