With central agencies — probing into the October 2 blast in Burdwan — putting under scanner several kharezi (unrecognised) madrasas, the Trinamool Congress government has now ordered an audit survey of all such institutions in the state.
The move is aimed at getting a clear picture about kharezi madrasas, including number of students being taught there, kind of education imparted and their source of income.
Probing into the Burdwan blast case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), National Security Guards (NSG) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have already visited and searched several madrasas.
While NIA has said that the accused in the case and were radicalised in “violent jihadi ideology” and alagedly belonged to Jamaat-e-Mujahideen Bangladesh, the ED is trying to find out the source of funds of the suspected terrorists.
The Mamata Banerjee government’s move is reminiscent of one taken by her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in 2003, albeit with a big difference. While Bhattacharjee had asked the Intelligence Branch (IB) of the state police to conduct the survey, the incumbent government is roping in maulavis, imams and muazzems for information on the madrasas.
Mamata’s order was conveyed by Minister of State for Madrasa and Minority Affairs Giyasuddin Mollah to all the district magistrates (DMs) and ADMs through a video conference at Writers’ Building Monday. Top officials of Mollah’s department were also present during the meeting.
“The situation is very complex now. All sort of allegations against madrasas are flying thick and fast. We feel there has to be an audit of the khareji madrasas and I told the DMs to do the job. I also told them to rope in the maulavis, imams, people involved with these madrasas and maktabs (elementary schools), to get the information. The report should be filed as soon as possible,” Mollah told The Indian Express.
“We have started working on the directive of the government,” one of the DMs who attended the video conference told The Indian Express while requesting anonymity.
Soon after taking charge as chief minister, Mamata had promised to give recognition to 10,000 unaided madrasas in West Bengal. Once granted recognition, the madrasas become eligible to apply for and get central funds. The move, experts said, was also aimed to securing the Trinamool Congress’s Muslim vote bank.
At present, there are 614 madrasas under the West Bengal Board of Madrasa Education, while hundreds of such institutions have come up in various districts. Most of these madrasas are residential mainly catering to boys from poor families. Also, most of these educational institutions are dependent on zakat and fitra (charity) of Muslims.
In 2003, then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee remarked during a media conference at Writers’ Building that some of the madrasas were hubs of anti-national activities. Though following tremendous pressure from within his party and other quarters, Bhattacharjee backtracked on his comment, but ordered the state IB to do a survey of the kharezi madrasas. The IB prepared a report and submitted it before the government. It is not known if and whether any action was taken on it.
The BJP, while welcoming the move, said it came too late. “She woke up to the ground reality three weeks after the Burdwan incident. The fact is, in this period, the jihadi elements got enough time to destroy and hide all evidences. It is too little and too late,” Siddharth Nath Singh, BJP national general secretary said.