Valley Madrassas: Far cry from jehadi factories
20 April 2002
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, surviving in the name of religion, has failed to fetch its flock from the madrassas in the Valley. Security agencies involved in counter-insurgency in Kashmir have never come across a local militant having Madrassa background. These far-right religious institutions of Deobandi school of thought have distanced themselves from militancy since 13 years. They have also avoided to be part of secessionist umbrella of 23 political, social, religious organisations - the All Party''s Hurriyat Conference - even at a time when militancy was a prime assignment. Unlike across their reputation across the border, madrassas here, according to investigations by various security agencies, have not colluded with the jehadi elements. “We have never caught any militant having madrassa background,” said K Rejendra, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, adding that “we have no objection on their functioning in Kashmir. Their functioning is unlike Pakistan madrassas which have become jehadi factories.” KASHMIRLIVE: Complete Coverage of News From The Valley His lieutenant and deputy inspector general of police, S P Vaid is unequivocal that Kashmiri madrassas never produced a terrorist. “Ninety per cent militants in Kashmir are illiterate. Madrssas have played no role in militancy. They have never produced a terrrorist,” he said. Though these madrassas preach puritan Islam, no Deobandi cleric has ever approved the armed struggle or issued a fatwa (decree) favouring jehad, but have never denounced it publicly. “These madrassas may turn one a strong believer in religion and also a fundamentalist. But these have never turned any one a militant,” says Rajendra. Adding that they would have come down heavily on these madrassas in case they were found involved in propagating militancy. While the madrassas have no objection to the investigations carried out by the Army, they are piqued at what they call a malicious campaign in certain section of the press. “A local daily in its editorial on January 24 said there was a nexus between madrassas and underworld mafia. Government should investigate it. Check out accounts and also see where from we get the money. We are keeping record of every single penny. People offer Zakat, Uhser, Niyaz (religious offering and alms) to these madrassas and we keep record of all these things,” the principal of a madrassa said. “Investigate the education we are imparting, how we generate funds to run the madrassas and also make it public,” he said adding “if anyone is exploiting the madrassas government should take stern action against such individuals so that all the madrassas are not blamed.” There are around 40 madrassas affiliated with Wifaq-ul- Madaris (union of madrassas) in Kashmir. Around 4000 students are receiving religious education in them. Of these 20 are full time where poor students are provided free meals, clothing and accommodation. “Mostly poor students take admission in our madrassas. They have never become a problem for the government. Pass-outs of Christian missionary schools have become militants but the government cannot prove that any madrassa pass-out has turned a militant,” he said. The state Home Ministry has recently made a statement in the Legislative Assembly stating that 173 unregistered madrassas functioning in Jammu and Kashmir are under close watch of the government. An office bearer of the Wifaq, however, said the government should make a distinction between madrassas and maktabs (morning recital places of Quran). Imams of most of the prominent Valley mosques are from Deobandi cult, however, they did not preach secessionism or insurgency during their Friday ceremonies, said a senior intelligence officer. In fact, these Imams and clerics are now playing a pivotal role in anti-AIDS awareness campaign in Kashmir. “We should use these madrassas for good rather than creating doubts about their functioning,” said a senior officer. “Even in Pakistan all the madrassas are not breading grounds for jehadis. Tahir-ul-Qadiri (a renounced Islamic scholar) is running largest chain of madrassas in Pakistan. (Around 250 in Punjab province only). No one is teaching extremism and jehad,” he said.