Headmaster of Madarsa Allegedly Attacked For Being ‘Progressive’

‘Kazi Masum Akhtar can’t carry on his duties at the madrasa, unless he sports Islamic attire and grows a beard.’

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The head of a West Bengal government-aided madarsa has allegedly been facing “attacks” from “local fundamentalists” for his advocacy of “progressive” educational reforms, family sources claimed on Saturday.

The headmaster of Talpukur Ara High Madarsa in Metiabruz area of south-west Kolkata, Kazi Masum Akhtar, has been prohibited from carrying on his duties at the madrasa, unless he sports Islamic attire and grows a beard, according to his wife Refika Akhtar.

He was attacked on March 26 by local fundamentalists for allegedly hurting religious sentiments; they thought his approach was non-conformist and far too progressive. Members of the madarsa’s management committee informed us that he would be permitted to join the school only after he started wearing skull caps and Islamic attire and grew a beard

Refika Akhtar, Wife of Kazi Masum Akhtar

A family member from Akhtar’s family added:

He was trying to introduce the Indian national anthem in the daily prayer service and was vocal against early marriage of girls. He was trying to promote scientific temper and rational thinking. He had initiated cultural activities for all-round development.

As an ad hoc measure to help Kazi Masum retain his job, the education department of the state government has asked him to register attendance at the office of the district inspector of schools.

However, “The state government has failed to ensure security. We live under the shadow of terror,” Refika said.

Family members claimed the commissioner of Kolkata Police has written a report filed before the Minorities’ Commission that Kazi Masum could come under attack even if the police escorted him to and from the madarsa.

Managing committee secretary of the madarsa, Sirajul Islam Mondal termed the allegations “as baseless”. He told IANS:

This is baseless. The actual problem is he has no Islamic knowledge, which is necessary to continue in the post. Some of his writings in Bengali dailies have also created issues as they are not based on any knowledge of the Islamic way of life or studies. He randomly takes information from the internet and writes.”

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