NEW DELHI: The Uttar Pradesh government's move to conduct a survey of madrassas in the state is a "malicious attempt" to disparage this education system, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Tuesday said, asserting to defend the Islamic seminaries "at all costs".
It announced the launch of a helpline for madrassas in case any of them encounter "any issues" and constituted a steering committee to look into the matter after a meeting of madrassa rectors held to assess the implications of the state government's decision.
More than 200 madrassa representatives, including those from prestigious seminaries like Darul Uloom at Deoband, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, Mazahir Uloom, Saharanpur, and others, attended the meeting theme of which was "protect madrassas", the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, a prominent Muslim socio-religious group, said in a statement.
"The meeting raised concerns about the (UP) government's retrograde mindset, which by adopting a combative approach causes confusion and fear among the populace and builds a barrier of mistrust between the communities," the Muslim outfit said.
The meeting noted that "such behaviour" of the state government is "completely unacceptable" and must stop as the madrassas continue to benefit the nation by educating youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and advancing efforts to achieve national literacy rates of 100 per cent.
Madrassa graduates become sincere and patriotic citizens of the nation, the meeting underlined.
"Actually, it is malicious to refer to a madrassa as not adhering to the government system. It is essential to respond with a reasonable approach," the Jamiat quoted its president Maulana Mahmood Asad Madani as saying at the meeting.
"Madrassas are very beneficial. This system, provided to us by our elders, is unparalleled worldwide, so it will be safeguarded at all costs," he said.
The Uttar Pradesh government last week announced a survey of "unrecognized" madrassas in the state to gather information about the number of teachers, curriculum, and basic facilities available there, among others.
Jamiat said the 12-point survey questionnaire that would be used by the UP government was discussed at the meeting while a powerpoint presentation gave "a thorough explanation" of the purpose and scope of the survey.
"In the discussion, it was agreed that the madrassa system's laws and regulations needed internal revision," it added.
The meeting approved a three-point action plan, which includes steps to be taken to rectify any legal flaw in the madrassas' internal systems as "quickly as possible" and set up a helpline with a dedicated team ready to assist the madrassas in the paperwork.
Under the three-point action plan, steps will be taken to support madrassas in offering "modern education" under the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) or "another format".
"Religious seminaries are a sore spot for communal forces. Thus, we should be aware of their motivations," the statement quoted Maulana Arshad Madani, who heads a faction of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, as saying at the meeting.
At the meeting, the Jamiat secretary Maulana Niaz Ahmad Farooqui gave "a crucial presentation on the current attacks on madrassas in many states and their solutions".