January 2003 News

Centre plans law to regulate madrasas

5 January 2003
The Asian Age
Vishwa Mohan

New Delhi: The Centre is planning a legislation to regulate activities of places of worship and religious instruction. The legislation, if it is introduced and passed, will provide the government with a legal sanction to regulate the activities of madrasas and other institutions being funded and maintained by other religious groups. The proposed legislation is likely to be drafted after thoroughly studying the feasibility of enactment of a Central legislation in line with certain states, including Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, which have already taken initiatives in this direction. Sources said the legislation would provide for setting up of regulatory boards, including officials from intelligence and security agencies. Though the legislation would cover all the places of worship and religious instruction irrespective of religion, the debate in the Union home ministry about the need to frame such a legislation was initiated following reports of misuse of madrasas by fundamentalist and other anti-national activists, mainly in the border and coastal areas, they added. The problem was also highlighted in the report of the group of ministers, headed by deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, on national security last year. Expressing grave concern over the misuse of madrasas, the report said, "Funded by Saudi and Gulf sources, many new madrasas have come up all over the country in recent years, especially in large numbers in the coastal areas of the west and in the border areas of West Bengal and the Northeast.

Reports of systematic indoctrination of Muslims in the border areas in fundamentalist ideology is detrimental to the country’s communal harmony." Sources claimed that the Union home ministry had evidence to show that this growth is a part of larger design to create disturbance along the Indian border and subvert the border population. They said concerted efforts were being made by Pakistan to generate a feeling of alienation among people living in the border areas through allurements, subversive propaganda and promotion of religious fundamentalism through madrasas. The group of ministers’ report also emphasised on providing modern education to all the madrasa students. "Madrasa education is part of a Muslim child’s religious tradition. Steps should be taken to encourage these institutions to add inputs on modern education also. Efforts should also be made for providing increased facilities for modern education, particularly for the border areas where such facilities are lacking." Meanwhile, the state governments have been asked to take action against religious institutions whose activities were in contravention to the provisions of Religious Institution (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988, they added.


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