The Assam government has finalised its plan for closing down government-run madrassas and Sanskrit tols (schools). The state Cabinet on Sunday approved the plan and declared that a Bill to this effect would be tabled during the upcoming winter session of the state Assembly.
“Existing laws related to madrassas and Sanskrit tols will be repealed. A Bill will be introduced in the next session of the Assembly,” PTI quoted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary as saying.
The move has faced severe criticism in Assam and has also been termed as unconstitutional. The clerics in the state have opposed the government’s move and have claimed that the government-run madrasas do not really teach the religious texts and are, in fact, schools for education.
Details of the plan are not known but Assam’s Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been raising this issue at various forums for some time.
There are 614 recognised madrasas in Assam–57 for girls, three for boys and 554 co-educational–and 17 under Urdu medium. On the other hand, there are a hundred government-aided Sanskrit tols.
Sarma had said in February that the government had decided to close down government-run madrasas, high madrasas and Sanskrit tols because it was “not the duty” of the state government to impart religious education, teach Arabic or some other language or religious scriptures. The madrasas, high madrasas and Sanskrit tols would be converted into high and higher secondary schools, he had said.
“So, we have decided to convert these institutes into seats for general education. Now, 600 madrasas will be closed down. In these madrasas, we are going to impart modern education… An opportunity was given only to a class of citizens to study their holy scripture and then score marks. So, my opposition is because you have to establish parity. Either you allow the Bhagavad Gita or Bible so that other students also score 200 marks, or remove the Quran.”
He added, “I think introducing the Bible or Bhagavad Gita will not be easy because Assam has a composite culture and there are many small religions. So the best way to establish parity is to remove the subject of the Quran.”
On an earlier occasion, too, he had told reporters in Guwahati that the reins of the Sanskrit tols would be handed over to the Kumar Bhaskarvarma Sanskrit University and they would be turned into centres of academic learning and research on Indian culture.