Assam Assembly Passes Bill to Abolish All State-Run Madrasas
The state government reportedly intends to shut down around 610 madrasas across the state.
The Madrasa Bill, which seeks to abolish all state-run madarsas and transform them into regular schools in Assam, was passed by the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, 30 December, ANI reported.
The Assam government had tabled the Bill in the House on Monday, 29 December.
“We have introduced a Bill whereby all madrasas will be converted into institutes of general education and no madrasa will be established by the government in future. We are happy to introduce this Bill to bring truly secular curriculum in education system,” said Assam Education Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Monday after the Bill was tabled, as quoted by ANI.
Opposition Walks Out of the Assembly
When the Assam Cabinet had approved the Bill on 13 December, the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), in opposition to the Bill, walked out of the Assembly, after their demand to send the legislation to the Select Committee for ‘proper discussions’ was rejected.
The Bill was passed with a majority, with the support of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), reported PTI.
The move was criticised by opposition parties as well as the All Assam Minority Students’ Union who declared that, “Madrasas don’t only teach Islamic scriptures and Arabic, they also teach subjects like any regular school,” and the move was to ‘harass Muslims and deny them basic rights’ that are guaranteed in the Constitution, quoted Scroll.
As quoted by The Guardian, “The idea is to wipe out Muslims,” said Wajed Ali Choudhury, a Congress MLA who claimed the passing of the Bill was an attack on Muslims.
The Bill proposes to abolish The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995, and The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organization of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018, reported PTI.
Biswa tweeted about the Bill being passed, saying the conversion of the Madrasas to regular government schools will happen by 1 April 2021.
Will Introduce New Bill To Regulate Private Madrasas
The conversion of madrasas will have no effect on the salaries or service terms of the teachers and staff members, reported PTI.
Sarma clarified that the Bill will not be extended to shut down privately-run madrasas, but the government will soon introduce a new bill to regulate them. “We are in the process of drafting a bill whereby Qawmi (private) madrassas will have to be registered with the state government and they will be given registration if and only if they teach science, maths, etc., along with religious education,” he told PTI.
‘A Secular Move’ That Didn’t Cover Sanskrit Tols
The Assam government had announced that it is a ‘secular’ move since it couldn’t endorse ‘imparting religious education with public money’, reported Scroll.
“We need more doctors, police officers, bureaucrats, and teachers, from the minority Muslim community rather than imams for mosques,” said Sarma, as quoted by The Guardian.
The state government reportedly intends to shut down around 610 madrasas across the state, pointing out that the government has been spending Rs 260 crore annually for these institutes.
However, the Bill doesn’t mention or cover ‘Sanskrit tols’ which are centres of Vedic education, and the state government funds around 1,000 of them.
“The Assam government says public money can't be spent on religious education, but several universities impart Vedic education, Islamic teachings. So, it looks like an election agenda. What Yogi (Adityanath) did not do in UP, BJP has done in Assam. We will now help people who want to go against this in the court,” said AIUDF legislator Rafikul Islam to PTI.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI, Scroll and The Guardian.)
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