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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 32 New Delhi August 1, 2015

Today’s Political Killers ...of Human Forms, of Communities, of Institutions..

Friday 31 July 2015, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

Today’s political rulers are killing. Spreading their tactics beyond Gujarat... the ongoing killings in Madhya Pradesh are nothing short of silencing witnesses and whistle-blowers. Anyone who could speak out and pinpoint at the political figures involved in the Vyapam scam, is not allowed to survive. And these murders carry a definite pattern, yet mute we sit.

Another politically mastered trend which has been emerging right from the Muzaffarnagar riots is this—political goons forcing members of a particular minority community to move out from rural belts. Killing them if they refuse to move from their ancestral agri-cultural lands and homes. This has been gaining ground in these recent months. Outlining villages of this Capital city have become testing grounds, if not a full-fledged laboratory! If the Muslim population of the village is small, only five or six Muslim households, then the task gets easy; threats are relayed to them, they would have to move out otherwise they would be killed. They are left with little choice but shift base. Most shifting to the Capital city, to work as daily wagers/labourers. But if they are considerably well-to-do and in relatively large numbers, then the task to hound them out gets somewhat difficult. It could take months to uproot them. The latest example of this is last week’s incidents in village Atali, situated in Haryana’s Ballabhgarh district. Communal tension had been brewing in this village for the last several months but after a gap the situation seemed settled, till about last week, when several Muslim families were targeted and forced to flee. Made refugees in their own land!

And now comes this communal-dripping Maharashtra Government’s order that madrasa education is no education for the government of the day! What does an average Muslim do!

Maybe I can’t afford to admit my child to a public school nor in a convent. Maybe I don’t want to admit my child in a government-run school.

Maybe I want my child to study only in a madrasa. Then what? In the eyes of the Maharashtra Government my child will be an illiterate, though in reality he or she will be a scholar of Islamic studies, an ‘alim’, a ‘hafiz’!

What the Right-wing government in Maharashtra is doing is nothing short of zulm on the Muslim community. Stripping them of their basic identity. Complicating the situation by dragging along blatantly silly alibis. Foremost, the madrasas ought to introduce a range of subjects—English, Hindi, Mathematics, Sciences ... Great ...good. In fact, I would add vocational training too to this long list. Provide government grants for this and I’m certain the various madrasas will raise no objection, for the broader the expanse of the curriculum the better. But here lies the bait thrown in rather too shrewdly by the government, here lies the mischievous twist—the government will appoint teachers for those subjects. And with that, those doubts and apprehensions do crop up. After all, government-appointed teachers could be from RSS shakhas and from BJP-RSS backgrounds. These apprehensions are not unfounded; today even big-bodied educational institutions are getting stuffed with pracharaks and maha-pracharaks! And as I have been writing all along, the minority communities of this land do not trust the BJP and RSS and any of their brigades.

 Remove Those Myths and Misconceptions... 

Whilst on the madrasas, it is unfortunate that no effort has been made to remove those myths and misconceptions about madrasas... In the backdrop of the RSS-BJP linking them to terror activities, I had interviewed the late Dr Asghar Ali Engineer and this is what he had said: ‘This is nothing but a series of blatant propaganda by the RSS-BJP ...in my knowledge no madrasa in India is linked to any terror activity. No, not even one... impossible! Bogus propaganda by the RSS-BJP.’

To link madrasas with terrorist activities has become a political ploy to distract. I have visited at least a dozen madrasas and came back feeling sad and depressed. Why? Seeing the very basics with which the boys were surviving ...just with those basics. The ones situated in Mewat and even the ones here in New Delhi are so basic that you feel you have entered a last century dwelling—with no radios or computers and no television sets And last summer when I had visited the Lucknow situated Nadwa I felt I had come to some Gandhian ashram. Cotton/khadi clad young boys seated in sparsely furnished class rooms. No, not a single air conditioner. And only few computers and to the ‘why’ the answer was where are the funds for more PCs. What about all those hyped notions that Nadwa gets government aid and grants from some Muslim countries? The Nadwa authorities rubbished it, telling me that it runs on whatever little the community can muster, including the zakat money which every Muslim has to give from his or her earnings, for the needy.

In fact, whilst on madrasas it would be important to bring into focus a feature that was published several years back in Outlook (January 30, 2006). What the Kolkata-based Jaideep Majumdar wrote could be an eye-opener for many.

He wrote: ‘The Bengal Alifate—Going to the madrasa here is like studying in any other school...why the State’s madrasas are special—Some 40,000 Hindus—12 per cent of total students—study in them. They are co-educational—in fact, girls outnumber boys and sit in the same classroom as them. No mullahs teach here, there are several Hindus amongst the teachers. Save for a compulsory paper in either Arabic or Islamic studies, the syllabi are the same as in any other secondary school of the state. The class x certificate is recognised by the State Secondary Board ..They (madrasas) are popular with Hindus as the fee is minimal, the teacher student ratio is 42:1, quality of education is often better...’