Madrassas and Urdu and Arabic Study Centres are being singled out in the name of National Security
Those running study centres are worried that now Madrassa students have been declared officially as suspects and are opposed to such branding and ‘social profiling’ of Muslim institutions.
The National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language and National Security, both in the same sentence may appear awkward to many. But for the Union Home Ministry, NCPUL is the new archery bow to shoot arrows for the purported ‘war on terror’. Its desired target, the Muslim run educational institutes.
In the month of January 2016, hundreds of NCPUL study centres, mainly Madrassas and other Muslim run institutes affiliated to its different diploma programmes, across the country received a rather murky message from the Union Home Ministry, disguised as a NCPUL notice asking them ‘to detect and counter radicalisation efforts.’
The NCPUL, falls under the HRD Ministry, and is the highest regulatory body which is responsible for the regulation of Urdu education in India.The notice addressed to the Centre In-charge of Urdu, Arabic and Persian Study centres – a copy of the notice is available with TwoCircles.net – has the subject titled, “Implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force on National Security approved/accepted by the Cabinet Committee on Security.”
The notice referred to the recommendation of the high profile Naresh Chandra Committee, which was formed by the UPA-II in June 2011 to review the defence management of the country.
The NCPUL notice said, “The Task force recommends that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) should develop capabilities for detecting and countering radicalization efforts and to take counter measures through Government and Non-Government structures.”
The notice went on to explain, “Both Radicalization and de-Radicalization is multi-disciplinary; efforts requiring inputs from Intelligence Agencies, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the state police forces and all developmental departments; Ministry of Home Affairs will take the lead, but this requires the involvement of the entire government.”
The notice sent to all the centres has asked the Centre In-charge to submit an action taken report on National Security issues, by maintaining security at their accredited centres. Kalimullah, In-charge and Research Officer of Functional Arabic Centres of NCPUL, under whose name the notice was issued, expressed surprise when TwoCircles.net contacted him. “It was meant for our study centres not for journalists,” he said.
When inquired about the purpose of issuing this kind of notice to study centres, he explained, “They will have to maintain the records of the students studying there, and should make sure that they don’t get involved in any anti-social activities.”
Asked if it was proper to drag in Madrassas in the National Security surveillance process, he replied, “We acted on the direction received from the Central Government.” He said that the NCPUL received the circular from the Central Government asking them to implement recommendations of the Task Force on National Security one month back. Later, an inner departmental circular was issued to all NCPUL departments to implement the same, thus the notice was issued to study centres.
Kalimullah also clarified that the notice was not meant only for Madrassas, “Our study centres are run by NGOs and different educational societies. These notices were sent to them, not to any specific Madrassa.”
A quick look at the registered study centres listed on the NCPUL website will make it clear that all of them are either Madrassas or Muslim-run other professional educational institutes.
Kalimullah said he can speak only about his department and conceded that the notice was served to all the centres under his department.
Across India there are 278 Study Centres of functional Arabic under the NCPUL; further there are 759 Study Centres for Diploma in Urdu, 308 Arabic Certificate Course Centres, 27 Advance Computer Training Centres, 53 Calligraphy and Design Centres, and 50 Centres for Diploma in Electronic Appliance(s).
Kalimullah also said that all the Centres In-charge who have received the notice will have to comply with recommendations and should reply back to NCPUL on the steps taken by them for National Security purposes concerning their places of learning.
An officer of NCPUL said that all the departments received the circular and conceded that every other department of NCPUL received the circular and subsequently notices were issued to all the study centres affiliated to respective departments.
He further informed that the NCPUL received the circular from the Secretary, (Internal Home Divisions) Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting details of the exact extract which was forwarded to other study centres. The same official also added that the Circular was also copied to the HRD Ministry, Minority Affairs Ministry, Chairman UGC and DGPs of all states.
Mr. Kamal Singh, Assistant Director (Administration) who issued this Inter-Departmental Circular was on leave and was not available for his comments. TCN also tried to reach out to the NCPUL director Dr. Khwaja Ekramuddin but he was also unavailable for comment.
A Muslim Educational Society in Hyderabad, who runs a primary school along with a Madrassa, which also serves as a Study Centre for a functional Arabic course, confirmed that they have received the National Security notice from NCPUL.
On assurance of anonymity, the In-charge expressed his feelings of fear and astonishment. “We run educational institutions not brainwashing centres. Centres of learning should not be dragged into this dirty mud of war on terror,” he told TCN.
“They are now asking us to submit the Action Taken Report, next Government will ask us to send student information to police stations; this branding and social profiling of Muslim institutes is unacceptable,” he said, worrying that now, with this Circular, all Madrassa students have been declared as official suspects.
He also informed that the he will not comply with the said notice and in protest will rather withdraw from the NCPUL Study Centre list and will urge others too to follow suit.
“We joined the NCPUL, thinking that it is providing great mechanism for distance education, but now it’s turning into a counter terror agency, we find no reason to stay with them,” he added.