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A court in India essentially bans madrasas in a major state prior to elections

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In the run-up to the national elections, an Indian court effectively outlawed Islamic institutions in the most populous state, perhaps further alienating the Muslim community from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist administration.

A 2004 rule that governed madrasas in Uttar Pradesh was struck down by a Friday verdict, which ordered that pupils be transferred to traditional schools on the grounds that it violated India’s constitutional secularism.

2.7 million students and 10,000 teachers in 25,000 madrasas are impacted by the Allahabad High Court judgment, according to Iftikhar Ahmed Javed, the state’s head of the madrasa education board. In the state, one-fifth of the 240 million inhabitants are Muslims.

“The state government shall also ensure that children between the ages of 6 to 14 years are not left without admission in duly recognised institutions,” Judges Subhash Vidyarthi and Vivek Chaudhary wrote in their order, which was made on the basis of an appeal by lawyer Anshuman Singh Rathore.

Between April and June, India will have general elections, which are predicted to be won by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Certain BJP members and associates have been accused by Muslims and rights groups of encouraging anti-Islamic hate speech and vigilantism, as well as damaging properties owned by Muslims.

Modi disputes the existence of religious prejudice in India.

The BJP claims that by erecting a Hindu temple on the location of a 16th-century mosque that was destroyed in 1992, the government is redressing historical wrongs. Many Hindus think that the mosque was constructed on a temple that was destroyed by Babur, the Mughal emperor, and where God-king Ram was born.

The Uttar Pradesh BJP, which controls the state government, claimed through a spokesman that the party was not against madrasas and that it was worried about Muslim students’ education.

“We are not against any madrasa but we are against discriminatory practices. We are against illegal funding, and the government will decide on further actions after going through the court’s order.”

An email requesting comment on the court verdict was sent on Saturday; however, Modi’s office did not immediately reply.

‘I AM SCARED’

Arguing for the federal government, which was a respondent in the case, Sudhanshu Chauhan told the court that “religious education and religious instructions of a single religion cannot be included in school education and the state government has no power to create statutory education boards permitting religious education”.

He stated that there were no plans to reinstate a governmental program that was terminated in March 2022 and which had given money to madrasas for the instruction of science and math.

Javed, the national secretary of the BJP’s minority branch and a madrasa administrator, stated that he frequently finds himself torn between his community’s needs and the party’s agenda. He claimed that since Friday’s directive, which was issued during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he has received a lot of calls from other Muslims.

“Sometimes it becomes very difficult,” he said. “I have to balance a lot because, being a Muslim, the party sends me to the community to convince them to vote for us and join the party. I am scared and I walk with personal security whenever I go to any public event or programme.”

Tripathi of the BJP retorted that Muslim leaders of the party had nothing to be afraid of because their group too benefited equally from various government assistance programs.

“I am Hindu and I visit the Muslim community often and get good support from them,” he said. “The fact is that the BJP and the government is very serious about education and it’s doing its best.”

In an attempt to win over Muslims to its cause, the de facto parent organization of the BJP has been placing its faithful adherents in positions of leadership at Muslim universities in India.

In January, the Uttar Pradesh government terminated a madrasa funding initiative, resulting in the unemployment of 21,000 instructors. According to Javed, the state’s madrasas receiving government or private funding are all subject to the directive issued on Friday.

While the court did not specify when it would issue its ruling, Javed predicted that madrasas would not likely be shut down immediately.

Hundreds of madrasas in the BJP-ruled northeastern state of Assam have been transformed into regular schools.

Mzaad
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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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