Uttarakhand BJP govt. trying to deflect attention from recruitment scams due to public ire by indulging in communal game again
Dehradun, Sept 14
The beleaguered Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) state government in Uttarakhand which finds itself in an embarrassing situation following unearthing of recruitment scandals in almost every department including state legislature assembly, leading to widespread resentment and protests throughout the state has again resorted to its time tested ‘Gujarat model’ remedy of deflecting the issue through vilification of the minority Muslim community.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday announced that a survey of the ‘Madarasssas’ in the state has become necessary and the same would be done by the state government. The announcement came close on the heels of the statement by Shadab Shams, a BJP spokesperson who has been given the position of chairperson of Uttarakhand Wakf Board. Trying to prove himself more loyal than the king, the said leader who has endeared himself to ‘Sangh Parivar’ by being closely associated with Muslim Rashtriya Manch and ‘Gau Rakshash’ organisations of the outfit, since taking over his post has been making outrageous statements regarding Muslims, ‘Madarassas’ and mosques. His utterances which are soothing for the BJP and ‘Sangh’ leadership has also comes as a relief for the state BJP government which has been facing outrage following large scale irregularities in recruitments in various government departments and bodies including the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Selection Commission, police government colleges and even universities.
The involvement of BJP leaders and their close associations with the alleged culprits has inflamed the tempers of the youth throughout the state. The youth including young girls had held protest and demonstrations against the alleged bungling taking off the sheen of the unprecedented victory of the BJP state government led by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. With recruitment scandals coming out of the cupboard of the state government almost on daily basis have put tremendous pressure on the ruling party.
The statement by Chief Minister and his Muslim chairperson of Uttarakhand Wakf Board has been an attempt to sidestep the main issue of alleged large scale corruption in the entire state and again involve the largely upper caste Hindu majority population in the communal vortex which they successfully did few months ago in the state assembly elections in March 2022.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which had its’ back to the wall before the state assembly polls this and changed three Chief Ministers within a gap of six months finally resorted to highly charged communal polarisation to create a record of coming back to power for the second time again in the hill state of Uttarakhand, breaking the myth of alternately sharing power after every five years with Congress party since the formation of the state this time.
It was not the performance of the BJP government which did them in but the highly charged communal campaign helped ably by central party leaders including prime Minister Narendra Modi. .
Apart from the appeal of the BJP’s narrative of robust nationalism in a upper caste Hindu dominant state of Uttarakhand, having a large number of service personnel and ex-servicemen, the highly virulent communal anti-Muslim campaign by the party did help them at the hustings.
In a state, where nearly each house has a youth serving in the armed forces where bodies of jawans who lay down their lives in J&K, Siachin glacier and North-East are frequent, the issue of robust nationalism espoused by the BJP has a profound appeal. The BJP this time has peppered it with dose of threat of Muslims including that of Rohingya Muslims to create ‘fear’ amongst the majority community as has been seen in the state of Gujarat in the past two decades where the party has won elections on communal planks. The Congress party was blamed for appeasing the Muslims and being pro-Muslim during the poll campaign which has struck. A vicious attempt was made to communally polarise the elections.
The ruling BJP which had been on the defensive due to its’ acts of omission and commissions in the past five years, launched a well orchestrated campaign through its’ crony media and social platforms accusing Congress party as being pro-Muslim.
Uttarakhand Chief minister Pushkar Singh DhamiA campaign was launched against former Chief Minister and chairman of the Congress Campaign Committee Harish Rawat for allegedly promising a ‘Muslim University’ to a small time Muslim Congress leader. A morphed superimposed photo of Harish Rawat showing him as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was circulated by BJP IT cell. As polling date came near, senior BJP party leaders went a step further and charged that it was a Congress conspiracy to encourage “Land jehad” in Uttarakhand hills which is considered as a ‘Devbhoomi’. The entire campaign was very well orchestrated by the BJP on social media having penetration up to the far off villages in the hill.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his election rallies, charged that Congress has been trying to settle Rohingya Muslims in the hills which did create a scare amongst the majority community. Prime Minister Modi did sent a highly communal message in a subtle manner. Without naming Muslims, he asked the audience whether they know what the Congress party is going to do to damage their culture, heritage, religion and “Devbhoomi”. He also asked them whether they will stop the Congress from doing so. The final straw was provided by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami who promised to implement Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state on the lines of Goa. After winning the polls, he formed a committee headed by Justice Ranjana Desai, a former Supreme Court judge who also headed the J&K Delimitation Commission.
Since the BJP government came to power in the state there has been an organised campaign against the miniscule minority community. There had been nearly two dozen cases where Muslims were targeted and their shops and businesses vandalised or looted on some pretext or other particularly in Garhwal hills. The benefits of such communal agenda bore fruits for the saffaron brigade which swept the 2022 assembly polls in Garhwal region. Interestingly, Kumoan region was spared this communal frenzy and opposition Congress did comparatively better. Even before the assembly polls, the false bogey of ‘land jehad’ was raised to create a scare amongst the majority community of Muslims. A committee was formed to look into allegations of ‘land jehad’ but nothing came out of it since it was just a political stunt.
But what the Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has said about conducting ‘Survey’ of ‘Madarassas’ is amusing. He has not elaborated the reasons for such an proposed exercise except for vilification and targeting of Muslim minority community. Has he ordered any such “Survey” in educational institutes of other communities including majority Hindu community?
Did he receive any specific information about any alleged unlawful activity or anti-national activity in these ‘madarassas’ in the state. The Muslim community is Uttarakhand is surprised and shocked by such communal utterances. A meeting of the ‘Ulemas’ of mosques and ‘madarasses’ in Dehradun held today expressed disgust at the decision. Maulana Ahmed Qasmi, Shahar Qazi of Dehradun who chaired the meeting said that if any unlawful activity or bungling of funds has been found in any of the ‘madarassas’, who has stopped the state government to act and why no action has been taken in such a case since for the past six years BJP is in power. The meeting termed the statement by the Chief Minister as a campaign against legitimate educational institutes of Muslims on the lines of Uttar Pradesh and Assam. The meeting also decided to approach the Nainital High Court regarding the issue of removal of loudspeakers from mosques. The Muslims said that the high court has allowed loudspeakers with permissible decibels to recite ‘Azaan’ ( call for prayers) but the state police has altogether removed the loudspeakers from Mosques. On the issue of implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the community has decided to hold another meeting at Haridwar to discuss the issue of September 15, 2022.
The statements by Shadab Shamas to get a survey of the ‘madarassas’ done in the state and to shut the unregistered ones and bring in changes in its curriculum by introducing Science, Mathematics and English are far from truth. Either he is not informed or so much high on getting a position in the BJP dispensation that he is going overboard. Moreover, in an interview with a news portal he has gone too far by suggesting that he would get CCTV cameras installed in all the 709 mosques and ‘madarassas’ of the state with control room in respective police stations to prevent any unlawful activity. Is Muslim community in Uttarakhand going to live under a police state?
The most outrageous comment he made was regarding the revered place of Piran Kaliyar near Roorkee housing the mausoleum of Allauddin Sabri, a 13th century Muslim saint as a den of prostitution, drugs and human trafficking. “ We have given a memorandum against his utterances to the state government and Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar to register a case against him,” said Razia Baig, a former chairperson of Uttarakhand Bar Council, a former member of State Wakf board and State Minority Commission.
The newly appointed chairperson of the Uttarakhand Wakf Board created a stir after taking over when he announced to buy a Bulldozer and use it on the lines of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh to raze encroachments from Wakf properties. He instantly became a darling of the communal media. “Does he knows that most of the so called encroachers are tenants of the wakf board and belong to the majority community. Does he has the courage to bull doze encroachments? I dare him to do so,” said Razia Baig.
On his comments regarding ‘madarassas’, he remain ill-informed. Out of total 419 madrassas in Uttarakhand 415 are affiliated with ‘Uttarakhand Arbi, Farsi Madarassa Shiksha Parishad’, a government body set up in 2012. These ‘madarassas’ affiliated with the Madarassa Shiksha Parishad are benefitted by some central government schemes started by Manmoham Singh Government. The first scheme is give money for infrastructure development by Government of India. However, none of the ‘madarassas’ in Uttarakhand has been given money on this count. The second scheme relates to providing grant to teachers by the central government. A B.ed teacher gets Rs.12,000 and a graduate teacher Rs.6,000 per month as honorarium. The amount is not a salary and is paid once in a year.
Interestingly, the honorarium of 565 such teachers from 187 ‘madarassas’ have not been paid since 2017 till 2021. Only the honorarium of past six months has arrived. “The newly appointed Wakf Chairman should know that a sum of Rs.65 crore of the honorarium of ‘madarassas’ teachers has been pending for past five years. He is not aware of the difficulties endured by ‘madarassa’ teachers and indulging in game of one-upmanship to please his masters,” said Hafiz Shahnazar, a journalist.
Regarding his statement of starting Science, English and mathematics courses in madrassas, he remain unaware that syllabus of Uttarakhand State Education Board is followed having all these subjects and National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) books are taught. “ We have not got NCERT books and had written three letters to state education department to expedite,” said Maulana Sharakat, who runs a Madarassa at Jeewangarh near Vikasnagar.
“ Only ‘madarassas’ imparting with purely religious education are affiliated with Darul-ul-Ullom, Deoband in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh,” said Mufti Riyasat, who runs a ‘madarassa’ at Roorkee.
Out of more than four hundred madarassas, 212 of them gets mid day meal from state education department. Nearly1,90,000 students are currently enrolled in Uttarakhand ‘Madarassas’ but the number of students in rapidly coming down. “It is due to the fact that the degrees given by Uttarakhand Arbi,Farsi Shiksha Parishad are not given equivalence with Uttarakhand State Education board tenth and 12th class pass certificate. The issue of grant of equivalence has been pending with the state government since 2016 but no action has been taken, forcing the students to abandon ‘Madarassas’ since they see no future,” claimed Hafiz Shahnazar.
The Jamait-Ulema-E-Hind, an all India body of clerics has taken cognizance of the statement by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister. Maulana Arshad Madani, of Darul-Uloom, Deoband has stated that an attempt is being made to vilify the islam teachings and Muslims while the fact is that madarassas in India have played a stellar role in independence movement and later in nation building.
But the most interesting reaction came from main opposition Uttarakhand Congress Chief Karan Mahra, who welcomed the move of the state government of conducting ‘survey’ of ‘madarassas’ without realising that he is falling in the trap of the ‘Sangh Parivar’ again. The Congress party has not yet realised that they lost power in Uttarakhand due to highly virulent communal campaign of BJP. They are either trying not to ‘annoy’ the majority community or they are too dumb to read the writing on the wall. They cannot reach anywhere by being playing second fiddle or ‘B’ team of BJP and ‘Sangh Parivar’.