May 22, 2024

Moon Desk: A court in India essentially banned madrasas in the country’s most populous state, a move that could further distance many Muslims from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government ahead of national elections.
The Friday ruling scraps a 2004 law governing madrasas in Uttar Pradesh, saying it violates India’s constitutional secularism and ordering that students be moved to conventional schools.
Reuters could not contact Rathore or determine if he is connected to any political group.
India holds a general election between April and June that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win. Muslims and rights groups have accused some BJP members and affiliates of promoting anti-Islamic hate speech and vigilantism and demolishing Muslim-owned properties.
Modi denies religious discrimination exists in India.
The BJP says the government is undoing historical wrongs, including by recently inaugurating a Hindu temple on the site of a 16th-century mosque razed in 1992. Many Hindus believe the mosque was built where God-king Ram was born and over a temple demolished under the Mughal ruler Babur.
Rakesh Tripathi, a spokesperson for Uttar Pradesh BJP, which runs the state government, said it was not against madrasas and was concerned about the education of Muslim students.
“We are not against any madrasa but we are against discriminatory practices. We are against illegal funding, and the government will decide on further actions after going through the court’s order.”
Madrasa official Javed, national secretary of the BJP’s minority wing, said that as a Muslim he is often caught between the priorities of his party and members of his community. He said he has been fielding numerous calls from fellow Muslims since Friday’s order, which came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Sometimes it becomes very difficult,” he said. “I have to balance a lot because, being a Muslim, the party sends me to the community to convince them to vote for us and join the party. I am scared and I walk with personal security whenever I go to any public event or programme.”
The BJP’s Tripathi responded that Muslim BJP leaders had no reason to fear because their community equally benefits from various government welfare programs.

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