Assam govt to shut all state-run madrassas, decision on Sanskrit tols in November
State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that public money cannot be allowed to be spent on religious education, however, the matter of Sanksrit tols is different from that of the madrassas
Assam will shut operations of government-run madrassas in the state, announed Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday saying that an official notification on the same will be issued next month.
He further stated that public money cannot be allowed to be spent on religious education.
"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," said Sarma.
"Functioning of Sanskrit tols (ashrams) is transparent. The notification issued next month will mention everything about the future of tols," Sarma said.
There are 614 government madrassas in Assam and about 900 private madrassas. On the other hand there are about 100 government Sanskrit tols and over 500 private tols.
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.
Responding to Sarma's announcement, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) supremo and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal said that if the BJP-led state government closes down government-run madrassas, his party would re-open them after coming to power in the Assembly elections scheduled early next year.
Times of India quoted Ajmal as saying: "You cannot shut madrassas. After we come to power, we will take a cabinet decision to reopen these 50-60-year-old madrassas if this present government closes them forcibly."
Earlier in February, the Assam government had announced its plan to close down the State-run madrassas and Sanskrit 'tols' and convert them into regular schools within a period of six months.
Justifying the move, Sarma had said that "it is not the job of a secular government" to teach religion, scriptures and languages such as Arabic to children.
However, on Thursday, Sarma said, "The Sanksrit tol matter was different."
"The objection to government-run Sanksrit tols is that they are not transparent. We are taking steps to address this," he said.
Two years ago, the state government had scrapped the two controlling boards — State Madrassa Education Board and Assam Sanskrit Board — and brought the madrassas under the Secondary Board of Education Assam (SEBA) and the Sanskrit tols under Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University to introduce modern education to learners to bring them into the mainstream.
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