Two madrassas of Bihar have recently made news for all the wrong reasons and compelled us to again consider the danger that lurks in our midst due to extremist Muslim religious institutions run mostly with government funds.
The police on Saturday, November 6, raided a madrassa in Bihar’s Banka region after receiving a tip-off. A cache of ammunition including 8 live cartridges and 4 pistols were recovered during the raid. Surprisingly, the police have not yet made any arrests in this matter till last reports received.
“No arrest will take place until a thorough investigation is conducted in the matter because the arms were recovered not from the Madrassa but a cottage outside the Madrassa, and that too not from the room or luggage of anyone in particular,” claimed Banka’s Superintendent of Police in this regard.
The madrassa administration, on the other hand, is claiming that someone has ‘purposely planted those weapons’ in the madrassa as part of a ‘planned conspiracy’.
As per a report published in Republicworld.com, the Maulana of the madrassa asserted, “A group of policemen first came to the madrassa and conducted searches, in which they found nothing. Just when they were about to leave, they got a phone call, and someone told them to look at a specific spot. How did they know that the arms were kept exactly there?”
The incident comes only a few months after a massive explosion ripped through another madrassa building in Banka district. Several neighbourhood houses suffered serious damage in the incident and a Muslim cleric was also killed in the blast. Notably, the Bihar police has not arrested anyone over that incident either.
There have been several instances of crimes happening in madrassas in the state, but the Bihar administration appears to be indifferent towards them. The body of a 16-year-old girl, who had been missing for a couple of days, was recovered on November 1 from Madrassa Islamiya Dhobaha located near Hasanpur village in the Shikarpur police station area of West Champaran district.
The body was recovered from a classroom and had notable bruises around the neck. According to the police, circumstantial evidence supports that the minor had been strangled to death. On the basis of statements given by the family members of the deceased, an FIR has been registered against unidentified persons.
“Following this, we launched an operation to trace her. But she was nowhere to be found. Her body was found inside the madrassa on Sunday morning,” Ajay Kumar, station house officer (SHO), Shikarpur police station said.
“The possibility of rape before murder cannot be ruled out. The body has been sent for post-mortem. The case is being probed from all angles,” added the SHO.
“The medical reports are awaited. We are looking into the matter,” Bettiah superintendent of police, Upendra Nath Verma informed the media.
Madrassa ‘modernization’ – building castles in the air
Despite repeated cases of crimes and recovery of ammunition and other weaponry in madrasas, their number keeps increasing across the country. Both centre and state governments have failed to check their growth and monitor their operation.
The education imparted in these madrassas does not coincide with the general education provided to children of this age group by various education boards, and stresses Islamic education only. Despite being a secular country as per the constitution, the Bharatiya government has been generously funding these religion-specific chain of institutions, which is against the basic tenets of secularism.
Funds are being pumped in for ‘madrasa modernization’, without realizing the basic fact that the root of the problem is the fundamentalist Islamic teaching which is the main focus of these schools. Teaching them maths, science and computers is of no use if the religious teachings are not altered to inculcate respect for Bharat’s Dharmic heritage and for the murti puja (denigrated as ‘idol worship’ by Abrahamic faiths) practiced by most Hindus.
Over the last decade, the Centre has run the Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM) to ‘encourage’ these religious schools to introduce modern academic subjects. The plan is to hike the allocation for this scheme by 80%, if one is to believe this report by The Hindu.
Even the UP state government allocated Rs 479 crore for its Madrasas Modernization scheme in its 2021-22 budget. This is being done despite falling enrollment numbers in the 16,500 recognized madrassas in the state, as Muslims themselves are reluctant to send their children to these institutions whose sole focus is Islamist indoctrination. Why isn’t the government diverting those funds to regular schools?
It is mind boggling that our secular state is trying to promote these Islamic religious schools, which have been found to seed fanaticism and indoctrinate a worldview defined by misogyny and hatred for other religions, by several studies and analysts.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma is the arguably the only CM who has woken up to the threat posed by madrassas, as shown by his decision to end all govt. funding for them. We have yet to learn from countries like France and Sri Lanka who are not just shutting down known centers of radicalization, but also closely monitoring and controlling the religious instructions and sermons imparted in private madrassas and mosques.