Illegal Madrasas – West Bengal alone has 4600

Vicky Nanjappa


A report that was submitted to the Home Ministry by the Intelligence Bureau indicates that the largest number of illegal Madrasas is in West Bengal at 4600 followed by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which have 3800 and 3000 respectively. The tracking of these illegal Madrasas gains importance in the wake of the probe by the NIA into the Burdwan blast which found that several members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen had taken shelter in Madrasas and even studied there before embarking on their deadly mission.

Illegal Madrasas are those which are run without the recognition of the state government and hence are not entitled for aide from the state. Intelligence Bureau officials say that the teaching at these illegal Madrasas is not the primary concern, but then they act as shelter to several anti-social elements including terrorists. The state police machinery normally does not snoop too much into these Madrasas fearing religious backlash and this could lead to severe communal clashes. It is under the garb of religion that these Madrasas function and very often get away. Take for instance the Burdwan case. These accused persons who had come to West Bengal several years back sought shelter at a Madrasa in Burdwan. They managed to escape the eye of everyone under the garb that they were studying religion. The radicalisation process is whole other thing and the primary concern for national security is that these Madrasas had provided several such persons a shelter.

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba) was one of the first to start this concept. They set up Madrasas in Kashmir, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and all of this was done without the consent of the state governments. Not only did they go on a fund collection drive, but also sheltered their foot soldiers knowing fully well that religion is a highly charged issue in India and any sort of extreme scrutiny of a Madrasa would lead to problems and hence the police would not act. The JuD was followed by the Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami which started off by setting up illegal Madrasas galore in West Bengal. They were followed by the Jamaat-ul-Islami which concentrated largely on the Northern Part of Bengal. Slowly but surely over the past ten years they managed to set up 4500 illegal Madrasas in West Bengal alone.

Parents very often send their children to Madrasas without even ascertaining whether the Madrasas have state consent or not. In an ideal world it would appear that these Madrasas are just teaching religion like is done in any other Madrasa. However, the flip side to it is the problem of terrorism which would never happen in a Madrasa which has an official consent of the government, Intelligence Bureau officials would point out.

The IB report also points out that the financing for these Madrasas comes directly from the terror groups. An approximate amount to run 4500 Madrasas in a state would range from anything between Rs 40 to Rs 80 crore per year. These Madrasas, which are illegal in nature, not only nurture anti-social elements but there have been cases reported from various parts of the country where illegal arms were also stocked. Arms being found at two Madrasas in Uttar Pradesh and then at Surat and now in Burdwan is proof of the fact what these Madrasas which are illegal in nature do. The Surat case is a case study. During the raid on an illegal Madrasa over there recently, the authorities found literature by Osama Bin Laden. They also discovered RDX, 25 pistols, timers, and 5 detonators.

The Intelligence Bureau has suggested to the Home Ministry that there is an urgent need to regulate the functioning of the Madrasas and crack down on the illegal ones on a priority basis.

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