UP Madrasa Board to introduce NCERT syllabus, no to NCPCR’s diktat on non-Muslim students

However, the controversial, even unconstitutional, recommendation of the NCPCR ‘directing’ non-Muslim students not to be educated at Madrasas was rejected

UP Madarsa

While rejecting the recommendation of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to shift non-Muslim students to other educational institutions from madrasas, UP Madrasa Board has decided to implement the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus from the upcoming session.

The decision to this effect was taken collectively by the board members at a meeting presided over by Board chairman Iftikhar Ahmed Javed announced to the media on Wednesday, January 18. The UP Madrasa Board also decided to introduce the NCERT syllabus in recognised and state-aided madrasas in a phased manner in the upcoming session. “Madrassa children will also study the NCERT syllabus from his year. Modern education will be given along with Dinee Talim (religious education),” said Javed.

He added that in the new academic year, the focus of UP Madrasas will be more on ‘modern’ education through modern tools of pedagogy. He also stated that the board would work out a system for an easy distribution of uniforms to madrasa students from class I to VIII by the state basic education department.

In November 2022, the Uttar Pradesh (UP)  Madrassa Education Board had publicly expressed its reservation to the interference of officers of the education department in the day-to-day working of madrassas in the state, which has led to a situation of discomfort in these institutions. In this connection, the Board chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Javed, also told the media: “Officials of the state education department are not the competent authority to inspect the madrassas run by the department of minority welfare.

“After the formation of the minority welfare department in 1995, all work of the madrassas, managed by the education department till then, was transferred to the minority welfare department.

“Later, the Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Council Act, 2004, was made through which the Uttar Pradesh Non-Government Arabic and Persian Madrassa Recognition, Administration and Service Regulations 2016 were made. Since then, the district madrassa education officer became the district minority welfare officer.

“As per the arrangement made in the Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Board Act 2004 and Regulations 2016, neither inspection nor notice will be given to any madrassa by any officer of any department other than the minority welfare department.”

NCPPR’s controversial recommendations

Opposing the NCPCR’s recent ‘recommendation’, the Board chairman said it was a discriminatory practice that was against the tenets of the Madrasa Education Board. The students taking education cannot be differentiated on the basis of religion.

“We follow the ideology ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (the progress and development of all) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will never remove the students of non-Muslim faith from madrasa shifting them to other institutions. This kind of practice should not be implemented in the education sector. If parents are sending their children to our madrasas, they will continue to study there,” said Javed. “The madrasa education board unanimously rejected the NCPCR recommendations,” he added.

Controversially, in December last year, the NCPCR had written to Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, recommending a detailed inquiry into all government-funded and recognised madrasas admitting non-Muslim children.  The Commission had also recommended all non-Muslim children studying in madrasas be admitted to other schools after the inquiry.

NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo, in a letter written in December, last year, to all chief secretaries, had noted that children belonging to non-Muslim communities were attending government-funded or recognised madrassas. “It is also learnt by the commission that some States and Union Territories are providing them with scholarships too.” “It is a clear-cut violation and contravention of Article 28 (3) of the Constitution of India that prohibits educational institutions from obligating the children to take part in any religious instruction, without the consent of the parent,” the letter stated.

Madrassas, as institutions, are primarily responsible for imparting religious education to children, the commission had said, adding it was learnt that those madrassas funded or recognised by the government were imparting both religious and to some extent formal education to children.

UP: After Madrasas, UP Govt to Survey Waqf Properties

The decision of the Adityanath-led UP government to survey Waqf properties in September 2022 was met with disquiet and concern by the state’s minority community.

There are 162,229 Waqf properties, including 1,50,000 registered with Sunni Central Waqf Board and 12,229 with Shia Central Waqf Board in UP, with the government occupying quite a few of these in the state. Danish Azad Ansari, Minister of State for Minority Welfare and Waqf, had then however termed the exercise a “normal departmental process”, saying it has nothing to do with other Waqf properties.

The decision had been announced amidst the ongoing surveys of unrecognised madrasas across Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government has ordered a survey of properties managed by Sunni and Shia Central Waqf Boards in what the government says is an attempt aimed at preventing illegal encroachment of the properties in the state. It has also cancelled a 1989 government order under which uncultivable land at several places was “illegally registered” as Waqf property. 

In a directive issued by the Chief Minister, he had “asked” all district magistrates and commissioners to scrutinise and demarcate Waqf properties in the revenue records. The directive came in response to a letter written by the state minority affairs ministry that said that several properties have been illegally occupied by Waqf boards. Sources say that the survey aims to stop “illegal possession and sale” of Waqf properties.

The official communication –a letter –had at the time, four months ago, been sent to commissioners and district magistrates by Shakeel Ahmed Siddiqui, deputy secretary, UP government. It had reportedly stated that several Waqf authorities had “neglected the regulations regarding property registration as per the Waqf Act-1995 and the UP Muslim Waqf Act of 1960. In 1989”. An order was also issued to properly register such properties in the revenue records. In this letter, Siddiqui reportedly alleged there were pieces of barren land that were registered as Waqf property by “manipulating” provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Muslim Waqf Act, 1960.

Thereafter, concurrently, in the order issued by the government, it has been said there is no provision in the Act for the registration of properties without following due process. Siddiqui’s letter had stated that according to the Act, only those properties come under the category of Waqf that are donated for religious and welfare work according to Muslim law and customs.

As per the directive, the state government has said that cemetery, mosque and idgah land should be demarcated because, on the basis of the 1989 ordinance, many such lands registered as banjar (barren), usar (uncultivable), and bhita (mound) were declared as Waqf properties. Also, gram sabha and municipal councils had land that could be used for the general public but were actually “occupied by Waqf boards”, it said. However, any change in management and nature of these areas is prohibited under the 1989 order.

Historically, waqf properties are donated to be used for religious or pious purposes, such as building mosque, cemetery, orphanage or hospital.

At the heart of the UP government’s latest move is a 1989 government order, under which uncultivable land at several places was “illegally registered” as Waqf property, the PTI had reported quoting an official. This has been revoked by the government with immediate effect with divisional commissioners and district magistrates being asked to examine all proceedings taken under the order to “correct revenue records” accordingly. 

“Waqf properties are very important and they are god’s property with nobody having the right to illegally occupy it. The state government, with a noble intention, has started a survey and we have given orders to first identify the Waqf properties and then take further action,” Dharam Pal Singh, minister for minority welfare, Muslim Waqf and Haj, told media persons.

Under Islamic law and customs, properties that are donated for religious and welfare work come under the category of Waqf, which means a charitable, religious endowment. Once donated, it is treated as “god’s property”. There are 162,229 Waqf properties, including 1,50,000 registered with the Sunni Central Waqf Board and 12,229 with the Shia Central Waqf Board in Uttar Pradesh.

Community React to Order

Reacting to the 2022 directives, senior members of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had explained how these moves amounted to a counter-attack by the state administration since, over the last decade especially, it was the Waqf Board that had been demanding that all government offices or any Waqf property encroached by any organisation or allotted by the government should either be handed over to the Waqf Board or rent be paid as per market rate!

Besides, the dual pronged attack by the aggressive UP government, first on Madrassas and then on Waqf Board land caused a disquiet in the community. Tracing the history of both mismanagement of properties and the government’s hostility the member had stated that a fair and transparent streamlining was for long being demanded by the community.

The 2022 ongoing survey of private madrasas across Uttar Pradesh was hotly debated. However, Darul Uloom Deoband, an Islamic seminary, organised an ‘Ijlas’ (conference) on September 18 were the heads of over 250 major madrasas from across the state attended the event and said it had no objection to the survey of private madrasas. However, the seminary noted that the entire system of madrasas —Islamic religious schools— should not be disregarded just because some institutions are found to have violated rules.

The government had then justified the act, claiming that it conducted surveys of “unrecognised and private madrasas” to gather information about the number of teachers, curriculum, and basic facilities available there, among other factors.

December 2022

Then at the end of last year, once again another issue arose when the police –in a completely autocratic act –in Faridpur, Bareilly booked the school principal and a para teacher of a government higher primary school, after the local unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad accused Siddiqui and Waziruddin of hurting “religious sentiments” of people in “a Hindu-dominated area by reciting madrassa-type prayers in the school”. The poem also known as Bachche ki Dua, was composed by Muhammad Iqbal in 1902 and its first verse has also been used in a song in a Hindi movie called ‘Raazi’.

The VHP raised objection on the line: mere allah burai se bachaana mujhko’. (O God! protect me from the evil ways). The VHP’s city president Sompal Rathore on whose instance the FIR was filed, alleged that school principal Nahid Siddiqui and Shiksha Mitra (teacher) Waziruddin were trying to convert the students and that students who protested against such prayers were threatened.

At the time, in an opinion piece in Indian Express, Devyani Onial wrote that the Urdu poem talks about a child’s wish for a life like a candle (shama), that banishes darkness from the world (door duniya ka mere dum se andhera ho jaye) and brings light to all corners (har jagah mere chamakne se ujala ho jai). It talks about protecting the poor (garibon ki himayat karna) and loving the weak (dard mandon se zaifon se mohabbat karna). She wrote,

“Before this, no one who had sung it had thought of it as a religious prayer. Children who followed faiths other than Islam neither paused nor stopped at the word “Allah”; everyone sang along, praying to God, asking him to keep us on the right path (nek jo raah ho us raah pe chalana mujhko). But in times when Urdu, the language, has become Muslim and the colour orange Hindu, what chance does a line like that have in an orange-lit India?”

The entire poem written by Mohammad Iqbal reads as follows:

lab pe aatī hai duā ban ke tamannā merī

zindagī sham.a kī sūrat ho ḳhudāyā merī!

duur duniyā kā mire dam se añdherā ho jaa.e!

har jagah mere chamakne se ujālā ho jaa.e!

ho mire dam se yūñhī mere vatan kī zīnat

jis tarah phuul se hotī hai chaman kī zīnat

zindagī ho mirī parvāne kī sūrat yā-rab

ilm kī sham.a se ho mujh ko mohabbat yā-rab

ho mirā kaam ġharīboñ kī himāyat karnā

dard-mandoñ se za.īfoñ se mohabbat karnā

mire allāh! burā.ī se bachānā mujh ko

nek jo raah ho us rah pe chalānā mujh ko

(Based on reports in PTI, New Indian Express, Indian Express, Newsclick and Sabrangindia)


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