‘Bulldozer Baba’ is menacing madrasas (UCA News)

India’s Uttar Pradesh state govt is targeting minority Muslim schools with its sights set on the 2024 general election

Students hold up placards and shout slogans during a demonstration outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi on June 13, 2022, to protest against the state government for demolishing the house of a local Muslim leader in Allahabad. (Photo: AFP)

The government of India’s Uttar Pradesh state, in tune with its hardcore Hindutva image, embarked on a survey of unrecognized madrasas (Islamic schools), which has stoked fears among Muslim groups which have reacted sharply, questioning the real intent of the state government.

What worries Muslims in the northern state, even more, is the fact that just last month in Assam, another BJP-ruled state, authorities bulldozed three madrasas after police stepped up operations against a banned Bangladesh-based terror outfit said to have links with Al-Qaeda in the subcontinent.

Utter Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is even more bulldozer-friendly. In fact, the Hindu ascetic-turned politician is not only synonymous with a bulldozer — he loves to call himself “Bulldozer Baba” — flaunting his image as a strong no-nonsense administrator.

So, the fear of bulldozers looms large over unrecognized madrasas in Uttar Pradesh. Once a 25-day survey is over on Oct 5, Yogi’s bulldozer might roll again to flatten these unrecognized madrasas.

“Now this fear is not unfounded at all, given the chief minister’s reputation and fascination with bulldozers,” Shehnawaz Alam, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh minority committee of the Congress party, told UCA News.

The official reason cited for carrying out the survey by minority welfare officers across the 78 districts of the state along with officials from the education department is to gather details of teachers, students, curricula, basic facilities available and affiliation of unrecognized madrasas with NGOs.

The aim, says the government, is to streamline education and mainstream the Islamic seminaries. Uttar Pradesh has more than 16,000 madrasas, among which only 500 get government grants. The rest are run on donations, which the state government now wants to scrutinize. It wants to examine the source of funding, among other things.

As expected, the move has not gone down well with Muslim organizations and political parties who have reacted strongly, calling the ongoing survey a “malicious move” and “uncalled for harassment” which amounts to an “evil intent to terrorize” the Muslim community.

However, there are a few Muslims like Ahmedabad-based sufi, Anwar Hussein, who have welcomed the controversial move, justifying the need for such a survey of unrecognized madrasas to find out the exact source of funding which, he maintains, is very important for national security. There is also a need to rein in the “madrasa mafia” and bring them under state rules and regulations.

However, the problem, as Mohmed Khalid — a Muslim leader in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut city — pointed out is that many unrecognized madrasas which run on donations cannot really provide details because usually they get anonymous donations.  So, the amount cannot be accounted for.

Besides, madrasas may not have deeds for land donated for the purpose of setting up a seminary. So, there is bound to be some problem, some pain and issues.

This is why the community feels that in the name of the survey, the government is unnecessarily trying to interfere in private madrasas which are run on donations from the Muslim community. The government has no business in interfering, they say, it should rather focus on improving the conditions of government-aided madrasas.

This story was originally published in ucanews.com . Read the full story here