Madrassas to close in Assam by November, teachers sniff political conspiracy

GUWAHATI: Madrassa teachers in Assam have sniffed a political conspiracy behind the state government’s decision to close down the government-run Madrassas in the state by November.

Accusing the ruling BJP of trying to gain “political mileage” with the decision to shut down the Madrassas, the Madrassa Teachers’ Association, Assam, has launched a scathing attack on the state government for allegedly backtracking its own process of recognizing the Madrassas in phases.

“There are about 400 provincialized (government-run) Madrassas in Assam, the existence of which is being threatened. But 602 more Madrassas were given permission to function and thus got recognition already. We are shocked at the move of the Assam government to close down the Madrassas without proper deliberation with the stakeholders,” Ashadul Islam, general secretary of the association said.

He said that it is painful that more than one lakh students, studying in the Madrassas across the state would lose track if the decision is implemented.

“General education is imparted from classes 6 to 10 in the government-run as well as other recognized Madrassas. After matriculation, a large number of the students pursue higher education with students from other institutions. Closing down the Madrassas won’t serve any purpose,” Islam added.

Contrary to the views of the Madrassa teachers, state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has recently made it clear that the government can not allow religious education to go on in the Madrassas with public money. He told the media here on Saturday that by November, both Madrassa Board and government-run (provincialized) Madrassas will be closed down in the state.

Though the state education department is yet to take a decision on what to do with the already enrolled students in the Madrassas, Himanta said that the government is pondering upon that so that the decision does not hamper the future prospects of the students who are already enrolled in these Madarrasas.

The Madrassa teachers’ association, however, slammed the education minister, calling the decision to close Madrassas as autocratic. “Under no circumstances, we are going to allow closure of the Madrassas. Public opinion will be built against this through democratic means,” the association said in a statement.

Targeting the illegal Bangladeshi migrants, Himanta recently said that for the next two years, it’s going to be a fight of two civilizations in Assam. But the association has asserted that safeguarding the Madrassas is a “fight for identity” for them. “Madrassa education has flourished since the beginning of its journey in Assam in 1206 AD. If other Indian states can run Madrassas, why can’t the BJP-led government in Assam? Is it religious education or some hidden agenda behind such a decision,” Islam questioned.

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