‘The move of the government is not legally right. These institutions don’t give religious instructions, rather they teach religion, history and languages’
Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – Assam government’s move to convert government-run madarssas into general schools is being seen by Muslims as an unconstitutional move to harass the community. They view it as yet another proof of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s anti-minority policy and a direct attack on the community.
A bill to this effect was passed in the Assam Legislative Assembly last week. Opposition parties like Congress and AIUDF vehemently opposed the move but the ruling party managed to get through the bill which abolishes the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.
It will come into force from April 1.
There are over 600 government-run madarssas in the state where 140,000 students study. The Assam Madrassa Teachers’ Association (AMTA) said that they will challenge the bill in the court of law.
Assam Education Minister Himanta Bisw Sarma, who has been leading the campaign against the madarssas, has set his sights on privately-run madrassas. The minister has said that he will come up with another law that would make it mandatory for the private madarssas to register with the government for running religious institutions.
Aman Wadud, a prominent lawyer at the Gawahati High Court, said that the move of the government is against constitutional spirit.
“If you look at it from a legal point of view, the government-run madarssas are not religious institutions but they are the institution for study about religion. The move of the government is not legally right. These institutions don’t give religious instructions, rather they teach religion, history and languages. These things are taught everywhere. You go to universities in the United States, you would see the Centre for Islamic studies. Even in Assam, Arabic literature is taught in colleges,” Wadud said while talking to Clarion India.
“This difference between religious institutions and study on religion was made clear by B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly debates when he was asked about the abolition of some institutions in Kolkata where Upanishad used to be taught,” he added.
Burhanuddin Qasmi, a Mumbai-based journalist who hails from Assam, said that this move by the BJP government which goes against education is aiming to harass Muslims and to score political vendetta against them.
“If we accept the government’s argument that education about religion should not be imparted on the government’s funds, then the departments of Vedic, Sanskrit, Arabic, Islamic studies and theology in the Central universities should be abolished. These are all related to religion in one and other ways. If these departments can be funded, then why not Madaraasa Board?,” asked Qasmi, who is a graduate of Darul Ulum Deoband, a world renowned madrassa in Uttar Pradesh.
“The government should have opened more educational institutions. Instead this government is closing down the existing ones. That’s why it is said that this government is the enemy of education. They abolished the institution of madrassas only because Muslims were major beneficiaries. It has become a crime in this country if Muslim benefit from any government’s funds,” he added.
He said these madarssas have been founded on waqf properties which were donated by Muslims. “Now, the government is converting them into schools. This is the biggest injustice done by the BJP government to Muslims,” he added.