Jobs @ MG
Nepal-border madrasas : no iota of
‘terrorism’ or ‘ISI’ activity
By S Ubaidur Rahman
(Indo-Nepal border): Every accusing finger targets them these days. Every
second person feels free to label them with whatever he fancies and none
musters courage to counter the claim.
It is the fate of madrasas these days. The system that has been selflessly
serving the country for hundreds of years, with no financial or any
assistance from the government. Its contribution in the drive to alleviate
illiteracy is enormous. But instead of recognizing this contribution, it is
now suspected for charges that cannot be digested. These remain just
accusations and no one cares to substantiate the senseless charges.
Photo: Dr Abdul Bari, Dumaryaganj; Left, Dr Asim Masood,
Newspapers are replete with planted stories about the alleged connivance of
madrasas with ISI and their alleged involvement in breeding terrorism in the
country, specially the madrasas which are dotting the Indo-Nepal border. Fed
up with rumours we decided to visit these madrasas in Eastern UP on the
We had a feeling in deepest part of our heart that these accusations may be
true in some way or the other and that the propaganda against madrasas here
could not be without substance.
But we were startled by the enormity of falsification put in by saffron
organizations and under their influence by some front ranking security
agencies and the home ministry of our country. We visited more than a dozen
well-known madrasas on the Nepal border covering around 200 kms in three
districts, namely Basti, Siddharth Nagar and Balrampur.
These areas have been house to a number of madrasas for a long time. Most of
them boast of histories of fifty to hundred years of services. We also
visited some madrasas on the Nepali side of the border in order to get the
real picture. Most of the madrasas visited by us were those which are being
hounded by our security agencies and police for a couple of years,
particularly after BJP government assumed power in UP a decade ago.
What we saw assured us that these accusations are just a bundle of lies and
figment of imagination and that the charges are patently false. Nowhere on
this sensitive border we could see any madrasas where any sort of even
physical training is imparted. The question of arms training simply does not
In areas where there is no government school to impart education to boys,
the question of education for girls does not arise. Here these madrasas have
not only provided facilities for boys to get good education but also
established a number of schools for girls. In areas where there is no basic
civic infrastructure these madrasas represent a marvelous achievement when
seen in true prospective. It had to be appreciated by everyone who wishes to
see the country on the path of progress.
Instead, the recurrent accusations against the madrasas have put their
management under severe strain. The steady stream of accusations and visits
has affected the functioning of the madrasas, but has failed to dampen the
spirits. Maulana Abdussalam Rahmani of Jamia Sirajul Uloom, Baundihar on
Dumariya Gunj-Balrampur highway in Balrampur district, says that 'as we
ourselves are terrorized by the stream of such accusations, how we are
supposed to terrorize anyone?'
Maulana adds that the baseless charges have affected the functioning of the
madrasas a lot and have put enormous strain on the management of these
madrasas. Maulana Rahmani scoffs at the allegations of connivance between
the ISI and these madrasas. He says that most of the students and teachers
of the madrasas are not even aware of the existence of the 'ISI'. When asked
as to why he is fearful of police visiting the campus, the Maulana said that
we have no objection to their visits, we want our institutions to be open
and it helps us, but their frequent visits affect the teachers and the
The attitude of the security agencies has made the life difficult for the
Jamia authorities and put them in a bind. But it seems that the Jamia is not
much affected by the agencies' harassment. There are madrasas which these
agencies visit every now and then. Some madrasa administration told us that
the agencies approach them as frequently as once in a month and even every
Jamia Muhammadiya is one such case where the life has been made miserable
for the management of the Jamia. Situated in Tulsipur, just a couple of
kilometers from the border, the Jamia is hounded by the agencies. Maulana
Nisar says that life has been made miserable for them since the allegation
of madrasas' alleged contacts with ISI and other terrorist organizations
started appearing in local newspapers and magazines.
From top: Jamia Muhammadiya, Tulsipur; Darul Uloom, Basti;
Jamia Sirajul Uloom, Boundhiyar
The Maulana says that police and other security agencies frequent the
madrasa in such a way that it has become difficult for them to perform even
regular work. When asked as to what they want, the Maulana said that they
inquire about the students, where they come from. They also ask about the
teachers. He says that though most of the teachers and the students are from
the nearby villages, these people regularly ask for their lists and
addresses. The Maulana adds that these people behave very rudely with the
staff whenever they come.
He told us that their main emphasis is on the fund raising by the Jamia. He
says that the audited reports do not satisfy them. When inquired as to what
is the main source of income of the madrasa, the Maulana said that the fee
paid by the students is the main source of income for the Jamia. He added
that the fund given by some local businessmen settled in Mumbai is more than
enough for the day-to-day functioning of the madrasa.
Dr Asim Masud who runs a madrasa, Jamiatul Banatus Salehat exclusively for
girls just across the road, echoes the same. He says that finance is not a
problem here as businessmen in Mumbai finance madrasas in their respective
villages. He says that the fee paid by around six hundred students, a large
number of whom stay in the hostel, is more than sufficient to cover the
running expenses of the madrasa as well as the payments of the salaries of
the teachers and other non-teaching staff.
The Secretary of Jamiatul Banatus Salehat says that the propaganda against
the madrasas is nothing but a bundle of lies that has been unleashed to
divert Muslims' attention from core issues of concern and make them feel
vulnerable. He says that services rendered by these madrasas cannot be
supplanted by any other means. Dr Asim says that there is a consistent
effort to malign the name of madrasas in order to weaken their credibility
in the eyes of the common man. He says that it is not only Muslims who
benefit from these madrasas but even other communities benefit from them.
Al-Farooq is one such example which has Hindu students side by side Muslims.
The madrasa is recognized in the whole district for its high educational
standards. It is the epitome of secularism and represents the true face of
modern India. Like other madrasas it is managed by a group of local people.
The only difference is that here students from all communities are enrolled.
Hindu students could also be found in large numbers in this madrasa. The
management of the school doesn't mind taking students from other
communities. 'We do not discriminate between Muslim and Hindu students. All
are equal here. We do not mind taking any student as long as the student
conforms to our educational standards' says Muhammad Isa, principal of Al-Farooq.
Al-Farooq is located in Itwa, Siddharth Nagar, just 15 km from the sensitive
Indo-Nepal border. Not only admission here is open to children of all
communities but it also employs teachers from all communities. So non-Muslim
teachers are found in an equally large number in this madrasa.
But it doesn't make any difference to the agencies which suspect every
madrasa to be a breeding ground of terrorism and anti-national activities.
The agencies frequently come even to this madrasa and seek lists of students
enrolled here. Even though all the students are local here but still they
seek students' list and their full addresses as well as the addresses of the
Muhammad Isa, principal of Al-Farooq, says that the local police personnel
and people from intelligence agencies approach him half-heartedly and say
they are just following the orders of the higher authorities. According to
him they do the task just to fulfil their obligation.
It is an exceptional case in this part of the world. Jamia Ittihad-e-Millat
is just a furlong away from Al-Farooq, but the story here is altogether
different. Maulana Zainul Abideen, the principal of the Jamia and other
teachers were amazed to see a large contingent of police coming inside the
madrasa a couple of months ago. The police not only prevented the students
or teachers from leaving the madrasa, but kept them inside the small campus
hours after the classes were over. The police party forced the teachers and
the principal to sit and prepare a lengthy report for it. It asked a number
of questions. The madrasa that was established some thirty years ago was
asked as to whether it was built on Gram Samaj land or the land was owned by
it and the source of its income. The police asked as to whether any person
ever visited Gulf countries to raise any funds for the school. And if any,
they asked for his passport.
The local thana is adjacent to the Jamia, but even then the police party
remained in the Jamia till the report they required was complete and handed
over to them.
What is most amazing is the fact that they did not officially give any
receipt of the report to the Jamia authorities. This is done not only in
this madrasa, but every other madrasa complained that the officials neither
ask anything in writing nor give any receipt of what they received from
Only one madrasa, Basti Darul Uloom's principal Maulana Zaheer Qasimi said
that he insists every such order to be given in writing. Darul Uloom is a
well-known madrasa in this area, so these people could probably not dare to
treat it in their creative fashion but smaller ones in obscure parts cannot
muster enough courage to ask for such things. It will simply mean more
trouble for them.
Madrasas, even on the other side of the border, are not spared. These are
also hounded by saffron organizations. It was shocking to hear from the
authorities in Jamia Sirajul Uloom just across the border in Jhanda Nagar in
Nepal that our security agencies even visit them frequently. The Jamia is
situated in Nepal on Barhni-Krishna Nagar border near the no-man land. They
also come and pose usual questions they ask in other madrasas in India and
seek lists of the students.
People in these madrasas are not ready to trust the media either. They feel
irritated over baseless stories being published regularly in all sorts of
newspapers and magazines. Babu Fazluddin, who runs a madrasa in Gainsdi,
only seven kms from the border, says that mediapersons come and talk to the
management in madrasas but do not publish what we say. Instead, they give an
absolutely different version invented on their own. Muhammad Isa of Al-Farooq
says that once a photojournalist from a leading newspaper came to his
madrasa and took some snaps. The same photos were later published in the
newspaper as that of a school in Kashmir. Isa refused to pose for snaps for
A number of people said that the whole issue has been raised by the VHP and
Bajrang Dal. They feel that most of the news appearing in newspapers
originate in the offices of saffron organizations. These organizations go
even to the extent of filing court cases against these madrasas on
non-issues. Darul Uloom in Basti is one such example. Maulana Qasimi says
that once VHP people filed a lawsuit in the court and demanded that the
property of the Darul Uloom be confiscated and distributed among the people
of the area!. Though they failed in a prolonged legal battle, but it shows
what they are up to. Their propaganda machinery is always active against
madrasas and feels free to air any wild accusations.
VHP's attitude seems strange when one comes to know the fact that a large
number of non-Muslims help these madrasas financially. Every madrasa has a
long list of Hindu donors. Their names even appear in their published
reports giving details of each and every contribution made by anyone.
Maulana Shafeeq Naeemi of Darul Uloom Fazl-e-Rahmaniya gave us a list of
donors that includes names of several Hindus who regularly donate money to
Muhammad Mahbub who runs a madrasa, Al-Mahdul Islami in Akrahra, Siddharth
Nagar near Barhni, says that madrasas face no problem from Hindus. Instead
they are ever ready to cooperate with his and other madrasas functioning in
Ashok Kumar, a trader in Barhni, says that madrasas are rendering great
services for the country. He says that it is strange that instead of
recognizing their contribution in the anti-illiteracy drive there is a
deliberate attempt to malign them. Vinod, a school teacher in the area, nods
in affirmation. Vinod pooh-poohs the allegations that Hindus in the area
feel terrorized due to the existence of these madrasas as propagated by the
VHP and other saffron organizations.
Kaleem Ahmad, a BSP leader, says that there is an organized attempt to
increase the divide between Muslims and Hindus in the area. He adds that the
saffron organizations are going all out to divide the localities on
Hindu-Muslim basis. But so far they have failed miserably in their attempt.
Kaleem Ahmad believes that the long-held mutual trust between the two
communities is solely responsible for foiling the heinous attempts. When
asked as to whether madrasas have mushroomed in the area in recent times, he
says that though a few madrasas have come up recently in areas where there
were no such institutions, most of the madrasas are very old. He says that
now Muslims are trying to launch modern English medium schools instead of
madrasas. He adds that even madrasas are now trying to follow modern trends
Woes for these madrasas are aplenty. The system that has been giving the
most valuable services to the society with no assistance from the government
is being senselessly targeted by the establishment and saffronites instead
of appreciating the Himalayan services it has rendered traditionally. It is
about time we stopped such senseless propaganda and stop targeting a trusted
and time-tested system.
Additional inputs and photographs:Ahmad Rahmani