‘No Religious Education With Govt Funds’ Says Himanta Biswa As Assam Decides To Shut Down State Run Madrassas, Sanskrit Tols

New Delhi: Assam’s Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that the government has decided to shut down all state-run madrassas and Sanskrit Tol. Proper notification will be issued next month, the government thinks that the state cannot allow religious education using public money.
According to an IANS report, Sarma said “No religious educational institutes will be allowed to function with government funds. We will bring out a notification in November to this effect. We have nothing to say about privately-run madrassas.”

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The report says the government spends about Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore on madrassas in the state and about Rs 1 crore on Sanskrit tols annually. There are 614 government madrassas in Assam and about 900 private madrassas, almost all of which are run by Jamiat Ulama, while there are about 100 government Sanskrit tols and over 500 private tols.

In February this year, Education Minister Sarma had announced that it will close down state-run Sanskrit tols along with the state-run madrassas. Sarma clarified that the decision to shut down tols was due to lack of transparency. “The objection to government-run Sanskrit tols is that they are not transparent. We are taking steps to address this,” the IANS report quoted him saying.

The reaction towards this decision came quickly, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) leader and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal said that they will re-open all the madrassas once they come into power after the Assembly elections next year if the BJP-led state government shuts down the madrassas.

“You cannot shut madrassas. After we come to power, we will take a cabinet decision to reopen these 50-60-year-old institutions of madrassas if the present government closes them forcibly,” said the AIUDF leader according to the IANS report.

In 2018, the state government had scrapped the two controlling boards — State Madrassa Education Board and Assam Sanskrit Board. With the move, the madrassas and  Sanskrit tols came under the Secondary Board of Education Assam (Seba) and the Sanskrit tols under Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University.

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