Historical bill passed in Assam, Govt stops paying money to 600 Madrassas for Islamic teaching

In a major development, the Assam government has passed a bill to abolish all government-run Madrassas in the state and convert them to general schools. According to the Assam government, the new act will come into effect from April 1, 2021.

The State’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government has taken a historical decision to secularise the State’s education system.

The Bill was tabled in the assembly by the state government on 28 December. The Assam Repealing Bill, 2020 seeks to abolish the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.

Soon after the Bill’s introduction in the House, the Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) strongly opposed the Bill and said that they would restart the madrasa education after coming to power in the Assembly polls due in April-May next year.

Finance and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government was not taking any steps to close down or regulate the private madrasas. Assam has more than 600 State-run madrasas, started in 1915. The government spends ₹260 crore on these madrasas.

“The teachers and the non-teaching staff of the madrasas, provincialised under the two Acts, will not face any difficulties. There is a clause that says that despite repeal of the Acts, any action taken under the Acts so repealed before the date of commencement of the Repealing Act shall be deemed to have been validly done or taken under the Repeal Act,” Dr. Sarma said.

Earlier, Sarma had said that the state government had decided to make education ‘secular’ and 620 madrasas administered by the state government would be shut.

“All these government-run Madrassas will be converted into a general educational institute and they will not be under the Madrassa Board. They will be under our normal state board,” Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

When asked about the private Madrassas, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Assam government is preparing a Bill for private Madrassas as well.

“We are already in a process of drafting a Bill whereby Qawmi Madrassas will have to be registered with the state government and they will be given registration if and only if they continue to teach science, mathematics, etc, along with the Qawmi education,” Himanta Biswa Sarma said

A survey conducted by a Gauhati University Professor, who is a Muslim, found that the parents and guardians of most madrasa students are not aware that their children are not taught regular subjects but imparted lessons mostly in theology.

The Minister claimed that most Islamic scholars are also not in favour of madrasas run by the government and added that these are a legacy of the Muslim League.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.