Row over derecognising madrasas in Maharashtra

Those not teaching primary subjects to be 'non-schools'

A major political row erupted in Maharashtra with the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance government deciding to derecognise madrasas which are engaged in imparting religion-based education.

The issue is all set to compound into a major political controversy ahead of the monsoon session of the Maharashtra Legislature. The Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Hyderabad-based Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) have opposed the decision.

The issue has to be seen in the backdrop of the burning demand for reservations to the Muslim community which has got into legal tangles and the enactment of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, popularly known as beef ban law.

According to ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis government, registered madrasas not teaching primary subjects will be classified by the Maharashtra government as “non-schools” and children studying in them will be considered “out of school” students, .
The chief minister, who is currently on an official tour of the US, has not commented on the issue.

“We want to bring everyone into mainstream education,” said Maharashtra Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Social Justice Dilip Kamble.

Minister for Primary Education, Higher and Technical Education and Medical Education Vinod Tawde said the issue has to be seen in perspective.

“We want to bring subjects like science, social science and maths to  madrasas with no interference in their religious education,” said Tawde.

“How is that anti-Muslim. We want to do this for their betterment,” he said, pointing out that under the Right to Education Act, children who are not taught under the national school curriculum are considered out of school.

However, the move invited widespread criticism and Opposition parties came down heavily on the saffron alliance government for what they said was Hindutva and RSS agenda.

MIM president  Asaduddin Owaisi questioned the rationale behind the decision and asked whether students being imparted vedic studies will also be considered “out of school” children.

“There are many madrasas that are teaching maths, English and science. Many madrasa students have gone ahead and cracked the civil services exams,” he said, adding that the government is trying to “stigmatise” madrasa education.

“The government has not accorded them recognition, so where’s the question of derecognising them? Such statements will have no impact and the good education imparted in madrasas will continue unhindered,” said Congress leader and former Minority Affairs Minister Nassem Khan, who had unveiled a plan to modernise madrasas during the Democratic Front regime.

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