GUWAHATI: Assam minister
Himanta Biswa Sarma
on Thursday announced that the state government will close down all government-run madrassas in Assam because it cannot allow religious education with public money. Sarma said a notification will be issued next month.
"No religious educational institutes will be allowed to function with government funds. We will bring out a notification in November to this effect. We have nothing to say about privately-run madrassas," said Sarma.
Soon after this statement, AIUDF supremo and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal said that if the BJP-led state government closes down government-run madrassas, his party would re-open them after coming to power in the assembly elections scheduled early next year.
"You cannot shut madrassas. After we come to power, we will take a cabinet decision to reopen these 50-60-year-old madrassas if this present government closes them forcibly," said Ajmal.
In February, Sarma had announced that the government planned to close down not just government-run madrassas but also government-run Sanksrit 'tols'. He had then justified it by saying that religious teachings cannot be carried out with government funds in a secular country. However, on Thursday, Sarma said, "The Sanksrit tol matter was different."
"The objection to government-run Sanksrit tols is that they are not transparent. We are taking steps to address this," he said.
There are 614 government madrassas in Assam and about 900 private madrassas, almost all of which are run by Jamiat Ulama, while there are about 100 government Sanskrit tols and over 500 private tols. The government spends about Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore on madrassas in the state and about Rs 1 crore on Sanskrit tols annually.
Two years ago, the state government had scrapped the two controlling boards - State Madrassa Education Board and Assam Sanskrit Board - and brought the madrassas under the Secondary Board of Education Assam and the Sanskrit tols under Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University to introduce modern education to learners to bring them into the mainstream.