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Assam Assembly Passes Bill To Abolish State-Run Madrassas, Opposition Walks Out Of Assembly

The government said the decision was based on the response received from the survey conducted among Madrassa students indicating the need for general education. It is now drafting a Bill for the conversion of private Madrassas into regular institutes.

The Assam assembly on Wednesday, December 30 passed the bill to abolish all the state-run Madrassas and convert them into regular educational institutes with effect from April 1, 2021, amid protests by the Opposition parties.

With this, the two previous acts of Madrassa - The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995 and The Assam Madrassa Education ((Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018, will be repealed, NDTV reported.

The Madrassas will be converted to upper primary, high and higher secondary schools. The bill passed will have no effect on the salaries or service of teaching and non-teaching staff members.

The government had tabled the bill in the Assembly on Monday, December 28. The institutes will no longer be under the Madrassa board but under the state board.

Speaking to the media, Assam Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government is already drafting a bill for the conversion of private Madrassas into regular institutes. These institutes will be registered with the state government on the condition that they continue to teach science, mathematics etc., along with Qawmi education, he added.

However, the minister had earlier claimed that private madrassas will not be shut down or regulated.

Opposition To The Bill

Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) walked out of the assembly as soon as the bill was passed. AIUDF and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (organisation of Islamic scholars) will be moving to the court challenging the bill.

The parties have marked December 30 as the black day for the state. The bill is also opposed by the All Assam Minority Students' Union, alleging the decision as a part of the government's agenda of 'harassing Muslims and denying them basic rights' guaranteed in the Constitution. "Madrassas don't only teach Islamic scriptures and Arabic, they also teach subjects like any regular school," the Union's statement as quoted by the media.

The parties had requested the assembly to send the bill to the select committee, but it was rejected. The parties state that Madrassas have been running long before the independence and had a historical background.

The institutes are running in other states, including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala for more than seven decades. The parties alleged the government of pushing their agenda through the Bill.

Government's Say

Sarma said that the Bill was not politically motivated and was purely based on the response received from the survey conducted among Madrassa students indicating the need for general education. The result revealed that most of the students in Madrassas want to be doctor, engineers.

Nearly 83 per cent of students said that they want to opt for general education. "So, we are only fulfilling the wish of a large number of students in Assam who are compelled by their parents to study in Madrassas," Sarma said.

"We are a progressive Islamic society. Congress wanted to reform the Qawmi madrassas through Right to Education Act, but couldn't due to vote politics," he added.

The proposal of converting madrassas into regular institutions was approved a month ago, on December 13.

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