The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to survey unrecognised madrasas has received pushback from Muslim organisations such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, and the criticism of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi (who labelled it a “mini NRC”) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati. But the Samajwadi Party (SP), one of whose main vote bases is the Muslim community, has been conspicuous by its silence while the Congress called for the survey to also include “Shishu mandirs” and Montessori schools.
SP leaders refused to comment on the survey that began on Sepetmber 9 and said they prefer to wait and watch instead. Sources in the party said spokespersons had been instructed to avoid commenting on the matter. In the aftermath of the polls, some in the SP questioned party president Akhilesh Yadav’s silence on issues concerning the minority community. But the SP chief’s defenders claimed at the time that it was a “strategic move” that had been adopted in the run-up to the polls to counter the BJP’s “politics of religious polarisation”.
Last week, Mayawati hit out at the BJP, accusing it of oppressing and terrorising Muslims and an attempt to “interfere in the functioning of private madrasas” through this survey. She has labelled the survey as “unfair” and an attempt to interfere in private madrasas that operate on “qaum ke chande (community donations)”.
Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput said, “Madrasa is a name for a school, just like ‘Shishu Mandir’ or a Montessori school. So, the survey should include all. Moreover, if the government is so worried about foreign funding, then it is the failure of the Central government.”
Asked about the Opposition’s stance on the survey, state Minority Affairs Minister Danish Azad Ansari told The Indian Express, “It all started from a complaint coming from a madrasa in Lucknow about students being chained by a teacher. After the inquiry, it came out that the madrasa was not recognised and then followed a letter from National Commission for protection of Child rights that there should be a survey about basic child rights in madrasa.”
Saying that allegations of “interference” were unjustified and part of “unnecessary politics”, the minister added, “The survey is not an interference, instead it is constructive support. We want to help these madrasas through different schemes but it is difficult to do so until we have their data. We are also giving out forms during this survey so that a madrasa can apply for different schemes.”
He said the Yogi Adityanath government had recently launched an “e-learning” application for madrasas and wants to introduce quality education in all such institutions. The survey, Ansari added, was the first step towards achieving it and requested madrasas not to be confused about the government’s intention.
On Wednesday, Ansari’s Cabinet colleague Sanjay Nishad, the leader of BJP ally Nishad Party, said in Baghpat, “Whenever a terrorist is arrested, just see where they are found. Whenever a criminal and a terrorist are caught, they are found to have links with madrasas. These madrasas should do something to improve. They should wash their stains. The survey of madrasas (in Uttar Pradesh) will be conducted to educate students so that they are not taught religious hatred. The BJP is thinking of educating children from the Muslim community so that they can develop better.”
What the survey entails
There are an estimated 17,000 recognised madrasas operational in UP but there are no official records on unrecognised madrasas in the state.
The survey started following an order dated August 30 that was sent to all the district magistrates (DMs). The order said survey teams would have to find out details of the “source of the funding” of the concerned madrasas along with “details of its affiliation with any non-government organisation”, among other things.
The survey teams will include the sub-district magistrate of the tehsil concerned, the district’s basic education officer, and the district minority welfare officer. As per the order issued to all the DMs,
As per the order issued to all the districts, the survey has to be conducted on 11 points — from madrasas’ source of income to the safety and suitability of their infrastructure, including if the building is safe, and has proper drinking water facilities, furniture, proper electricity and an adequate number of toilets. The teams will also have to report the number of students in the institutions they examine, the number of teachers, and the “curriculum” being taught.
The survey has to be completed by October 5 and the reports have to be submitted to DMs by October 10, along with the data compiled on each of these 11 points and additional comments or remarks.