In a controversial move, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra today decided to de-recognise madrasas which give students education only on religion without imparting formal education like teaching English, Maths and Science subjects.
The registered madrasas not teaching primary subjects will be classified by the state government as "non-schools" and children studying in them will be considered "out of school" students.
The move has raised the hackles of Muslim leaders as well as the opposition parties in the state.
"Madrasas are giving students education on religion and not giving them formal education. Our Constitution says every child has the right to take formal education, which madrasas do not provide," State Minorities Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse told PTI.
"If a Hindu or Christian child wants to study in a madrasa, they will not be allowed to study there. Thus, madrasa is not a school but a source of religious education. Thus we have asked them to teach students other subjects as well. Otherwise these madrasas will be considered as non-schools," Khadse said.
He said the Principal Secretary of Minority Affairs department Jayshree Mukherjee has written a letter to Principal Secretary of School Education and Sports Nand Kumar in this regard.
Khadse said the School Education department has planned a survey of students that are not taking formal education on July 4.
"Students who are studying in madrasas that do not provide formal education will be treated as out of school students. Our only aim behind doing this is to ensure that every child of the minority community gets a chance to learn and come into the mainstream, get good paying jobs and have a prosperous future," Khadse said.
The minister said that out of a total 1,890 registered madrasas in the state, 550 have agreed to teach the four subjects to students.
"We are even ready to pay madrasas for giving students formal education and are ready to provide them teaching staff as well," Khadse said.
Asaduddin Owaisi, who is the President of AIMIM, questioned the rationale behind the government decision, and asked whether students being imparted Vedic studies will also be considered out-of-school children.
"There are many madrasas that are teaching Maths, English and Science. Many Madarasa students have gone ahead and cracked civil service exam", he said.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind General Secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani said that whatever happened is "unacceptable".
Calling the move unconstitutional, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam said, "No child should be discriminated along religious lines. We are going to take the issue in the state assembly."