Seminaries In Focus

Dar-ul-Ulooms and Madrassas have remained part of Kashmir’s Muslim ethos for centuries. Never ever have these institutions, preaching and teaching the faith, landed in as big a controversy as they are in these days. Even the system that is keen to fund their upgradation is emerging scandalous, reports R S Gull.

Some members of Kashmir clergy who are running the seminaries talking to the media in Srinagar in October 2013

Last week proved quite heavy for a section of the Muslim clergy in Kashmir. They even addressed a news conference. “Around 60 of our institutions shown as beneficiaries by the Education Department had neither sought funding from the government nor have they received assistance in the past,” an angry Ghulam Rasool Hami, who heads Karvan-e-Islami told reporters. “There are 80 institutions on the list, which do not exist at all.” He believes the image of the religious institutions is deliberately being tarnished.

Hami and many other clerics who have been capturing a lot of newspaper space in the name of faith for the last two years now were aghast over the revelations that the union HRD ministry is funding the modernization and upgrade of these religious institutions. After it was leaked from Delhi that the scheme for providing quality education in Madrassas (SPQEM) has been extended to J&K and devolutions have already taken place, the state education ministry initially denied having any knowledge. As the pressure mounted, they came out with details and said the disbursements to the seminaries were in the pipeline.

SPQEM was the outcome of the findings that the National Monitoring Committee for Minorities Education (NMCME) made in 2004-05. This almost coincided with the larger debate in the West that Muslim seminaries in Pakistan and Afghanistan are the breeding grounds for militancy.

NMCME suggested that the traditional seminaries in India should be linked to the modern education system of education and might require handholding for up gradation. The government plans to invest Rs 325 crores during the XIth Five Year Plan on this front and SPQEM is a major policy initiative for it.

The seminaries are supposed to formally apply through the state governments for availing the funds that includes paying for their libraries, study material, part of the infrastructure and salaries for their teachers. They are supposed to introduce subjects like mathematics and sciences in seminaries.

Kashmir always had the Madrassa system but most of it upgraded to Darsgahs and finally to modern schools. In fact, the best chain of schools in Kashmir, funded by the society,with the best success rate in the secondary examinations are these Darsgahs. Their number however was never know commonly.

The numbers became known for the first time in June 2002 when the then commander of the 15-corps Lt Gen V G Patankar offered help in improving the level of education in the madrassas. He put their number at 173 in Kashmir with the border district of Baramulla topping the list with 48 Madrasas. Elevating the standard of education in these traditional religious institutions wads part of Patankar’s Vision 2020 under Operation Sadhbhavana.

In May 2007 union Minister of  State for Human Resource Development D Purandeswari informed the LokSabha that there were 27518 madrassas across the country but none in J&K. He said this information was provided to him by the J&K government saying there were only 86 private schools being run by the State Wakf Board. In June 2008, however, the then chief minister GhulamNabi Azad informed the state legislature that there were113 madrasas operating in the state. And now the madrasas supposedly benefitted under SPQEM is over 300.

Most of these Madrasas require improvement – both in infrastructure, the systems of teaching and the subjects offered. The government and the society must identify the areas where the graduates from these institutions would be placed apart from delivering on the faith front.

The government has issued the list of the 362 seminaries spread across the state that would get Rs 3.47 crore as central assistance for various activities including the salaries of their staff, mostly teachers. Now the clergy has raised two major issues. One, if the scheme suggests that the individual institutions should apply for monetary assistance, how are the benefits being extended to them without they seeking it? Secondly, they have identified clear cases in which the seminaries that are supposed to get the benefits do not exist on the ground.

In Kreeri area of Baramulla, reports suggest, three non-existent seminaries are supposed to be benefitted. Hamigoes further saying 80 such institutions are listed only in government records. One section of the Dar-ul-Ulooms reacted and stopped after the names were out. Another faction got restive and wanted a probe into the affair. An official said if they are not interested in the funds let them not take but why are they making noises? Is the noise shielding something major?

But the clergy says it is a racket. While the HRD ministry said they have reimbursed Rs 5.20 crores, the state government has offered details for Rs 3.47 crores only. And part of it is supposed to have gone to non-existent institutions. Why is the clergy so scared? “The society has been feeding us because we had no other source of funding,” summed up a cleric who wishes to remain anonymous. “If the society is convinced that we have a system to fall back on, who will fund us? Our initiatives will fail.” Adds Maulana Mufti Inayat-ullah of Jammu: “It’s a conspiracy to malign the name of Madrasas in state.” Is it?

Annexure-A to Govt. Order No. 692-Edu of 2011, Dated 09-12-2011


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