UP: Yogi Govt To Clamp Down on 4,000 "Illegal" Madrasas Receiving Foreign Funds
Lucknow: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Uttar Pradesh has said it would clamp down on "illegal" madrasas receiving foreign funds. According to government reports, about 4,000 madrasas receive foreign funds across the state, but several don't have legitimate records of these sources.
State Minister for minority welfare department Dharampal Singh has vowed to step up action against what it calls "illegal madrasas", with Singh saying that in madrasas, "kids from financially weaker sections of minority communities are lured into questionable activities."
"The government wants children of the minority community to get modern education. However, it has been found that many madrasas are getting funds from abroad. Due to this, kids from financially weaker sections of minority communities are lured into questionable activities. Following a probe, legal action will be taken against such madrasas," Singh told reporters here in Lucknow.
An action plan has been chalked out by the officials of the minority welfare department and the police in this regard, confirmed the minister.
"Madrasa management running on the UP-Nepal border is surprisingly parroting the same reply that they get funds from metro cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Hyderabad.
However, investigations have revealed that the money in these madrasas was coming in from Arab countries, including countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nepal and Bangladesh.
"The madrasa operators have not even been able to provide relevant documents relating to these donations," an official told NewsClick on the condition of anonymity.
Notably, the two-month-long survey conducted by the BJP government last year revealed that out of over 25,000 madrassas in the state, 8,449 were not recognised by the state Madrasa Board. A Deoband-based Muslim scholar said, "These same madrasas helped get independence for the country, and they are now being looked at with suspicion. Who's afraid of probing? The government has the right to investigate. But it should be done with the intent of investigation only."
According to the minister, most madrasas were found "illegal" in UP-Nepal border districts. Around 500 unrecognised madrasas were found in Siddharthnagar, more than 400 in Balrampur, 200 in Lakhimpur Kheri, 60 in Maharajganj, and 400 in Bahraich and Shravasti.
Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted a raid in Hussainabad Bhanwada village under the Ratanpuri police station area of Muzaffarnagar district on Wednesday morning. The NIA team has reached the village to interrogate an imam (priest) who has been deputed at a mosque of Imlia village under the Deoband police station area of Saharanpur for many years. However, he was not found in his house.
The announcement drew criticism from several Muslim intellectuals. Madrasa teachers and the political parties, including Communist Party of India (CPI) leader, said the Uttar Pradesh administration and government were not running as per the Constitution but on the directions of communal elements.
"Madrasas are fully dependent on charities. The financial structure of most of the madrasas is based on Ramzan. Zakat (2.5% annual religious tax of wealth) and Sadaqat (charities) given out in Ramzan have been the backbone of the annual budget of thousands of madrasas nationwide. This is how madrasas run. Madrasa teachers do not get salary for 6-7 months due to lack of funds," Abdur Rahim Amini, a retired madrasa teacher in Siddharthnagar, told NewsClick.
Some madrasas have Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 accounts that are getting funds from foreign countries.
"Besides, there are some madrasas which the government has recognised, but they do not fulfil even the basic parameters; the government has given many opportunities, but they were in deep slumber," alleged Amini.
Though most of these madrassas claim they run on alms, a few have acknowledged receiving funds from outside sources.
"When someone from our community goes abroad, they bring zakat from rich Indians settled abroad. This helps us run our institution but is insufficient to run the entire setup. Other sources are zakat from our people here," said Mufti Saleem, who runs a madrasa in Meerut with 1,200 students. As of now, madrasas feeling the heat are the ones on the Indo-Nepal border.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Chandra Shekhar said the Uttar Pradesh administration and government were not running as per the Constitution but on the directions of communal elements.
"The minority community is being targeted for communal polarisation. Why don't the government find out the funding of RSS-funded schools?" the CPIM leader asked.
It must be noted here that soon after the Yogi Adityanath government had ordered a survey of unrecognised madrasas in the state, the Centre instructed the state government to stop providing scholarships to seminary students enrolled in classes one to eight, citing provisions of free education under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
He further added, "This (clamp down) was inevitable. Identifying unrecognised madrassas was the first step. They will not hesitate to shut down these institutions that are not dependent on the government and leave thousands of students rudderless. All this is politically motivated from the beginning itself and predictable," Singh added.
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