Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh administration, which is governed by the BJP, continued its witch-hunting policies against madrasas. Following a survey of madrasas, it has now set up a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Additional Director General to look into the foreign funding of madrasas in the state. The state’s Basic Education Department has sent notices to madrasas in districts like Muzaffarnagar, Bahraich, Fatehpur, Koshambhi, etc. that have caused widespread outrage in the state. Even the state Board of Madrasa Education has raised objections to the move, alleging that the ruling party indulged in cheap politics in the name of an investigation into the running of madrasas.
“We will see how the money received through foreign funding is spent. We will check if the money is being used to run madrasas or for any other activities,” said Additional Director General, ATS, Mohit Agarwal.
According to a senior official in Lucknow, about 4,000 madrasas in the state are under the scanner for receiving foreign funds. Reebha, the director of the Minority Welfare Department, and Triveni Singh, the SP for the Cyber Cell, are the other two members of SIT. The probe would focus more on madrasas operating in border territories between India and Nepal.
According to Agarwal, the administration has not yet specified a deadline for wrapping up the investigation. The probe will include both registered and unregistered madrasas.
In August last year, district magistrates were instructed by the Yogi Adityanath-led government to survey madrasas that were not yet recognized.
In the two-month survey, 8,449 madrasas were not recognized by the State Madrasa Education Board.
In many other surrounding areas, in addition to Lakhimpur Kheri, Pilibhit, Shravasti, Siddhartha Nagar, and Bahraich near the Nepal border, over a thousand madrassas are in operation.
A number of madrasas were found to be allegedly getting foreign money as a source of income as a result of the minority welfare department’s investigation into madrasas that were not officially registered in numerous areas.
Recently, ATS arrested three active members allegedly involved in the illegal entry of Bangladeshi citizens and Rohingyas. The investigation revealed that “foreign funding of Rs 20 crore” was received in three years through a Delhi-run NGO, which was being used to help them.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh’s basic education department issued notices to over a dozen madrasas in Muzaffarnagar district that caused outrage across the state. The notice to these madrasas operating “without” proper registration asked them to produce their documents.
The notice further stated that such madrasas shall be fined Rs 10,000 per day if discovered to be open.
There were a total of 25,000 madrasas in Uttar Pradesh, of which around 16,000 were recognized and 8,949 were unrecognized. Madrasa Board chairman Dr Iftikhar Javed said seven and a half lakh children study in the unrecognized madrasas.
The notice-issued madrasas have been ordered to present the necessary documentation within three days of the order being received, failing which they risk sanctions under the regulations. “If the madrasas are found operating without recognition, they will be fined Rs 10,000 per day,” the notice read.
According to Muzaffarnagar Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Shubham Shukla, the district minority department has informed his office that more than a hundred madrasas being run here do not have registration or recognition in the district and are functioning against the norms.
In a jab at the center, the Madrasa Board chairman said that although the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has stated that it cares for Pasmanda Muslims, it has not given any thought to the future of the students enrolled in these madrasas that are not recognized. He stated that although madrasas were kept apart from the education department for 28 years starting in 1995, 12 madrasas in Muzaffarnagar have now received notifications.
The chairman also alleged that he was not consulted prior to the state government releasing its report on madrasas that were not recognized.
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind called the education department’s order “unlawful”.
Maulana Zakir Husain, secretary of the Uttar Pradesh unit of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, said the madrasas in the state are “being harassed by serving them illegal notices only to target a particular community”.
“The madrasas are providing free education to the students; they will not be able to pay the fine of Rs 10,000 per day,” Husain said.
Maulana Mufti Shahabuddin Rizvi Barelvi, president of All India Muslim Jamaat, echoed the same feelings when he stated that the madrasas had first been frightened in the name of a survey, then in the name of foreign money, and now they were being harassed by notices. According to him, the reason madrasas are operating all over India is because minorities have full constitutional rights to establish and manage madrasa institutions. The Uttar Pradesh Education Department’s notice to the madrassas violates the Constitution and will be contested in the Supreme Court.
He underlined that the Education Department only has the authority to grant recognition to madrasas, and is not authorized to fine them Rs 10,000. He said the Education Department is trying to intimidate madrasa committees to close down madrasas.