The Jamaliya Arabic College, from where 23 minor boys were rescued recently following allegations of human trafficking, did not provide any elementary education and instead taught only from the Quran, the police and locals have said.
The institute-cum-shelter in Kottiyam, Kerala, was closed down by the police earlier this week.
Acting on a tip off, police had rescued the children and shifted them to a government juvenile home. They will stay there till further orders from the district child welfare committee.
“The college was bringing boys from Jharkhand to give Quran classes only. Since 2009, the institute had children in several batches. Many returned after the Quran classes but we don’t have clear information on where these children went after their life here. That too, without secular elementary school education,” assistant commissioner of police S Madhu said.
The investigating officer said the lessons were in Arabic but a teacher from Jharkhand would translate and clear the children’s doubts. The teacher, Abdul Mohazil, was among the three arrested, along with college treasurers Thajudeen and Bashir. Navas Rasheed, who owns the institute, is still at large.
Police sources said they do not have data on the number of children who left after studying in the institute since no register was maintained.
“The parents of many of these children were illiterate so they may have thought sending them to Kerala for education was a good decision. But here, the children were not even given elementary education,” Madhu said.
Ummer Moulavi, imam at local masjid in Kottiyam, said there is no dearth of Muslim students for religious education in the region. “We have a madrasa attached to the mosque and all children in the region have enrolled for religious education. I think the people running the Arabic college had financial interests, so they got children from other states. I have given an informal direction to our members to keep away from the institute,” Moulavi said.
Nikhil, a painter living near the college, said the children were never seen outside and could be heard chanting religious verses the entire day.