Recently, Sri Lanka PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered the Muslim Religious Affairs Department to register all Madrassa in the country with the Department. The Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa also directed the officials of the Muslim Religious Affairs Department to re-evaluate the curricula of all Madrassa and to prepare an updated curriculum with the assistance of the Education Ministry.
By revamping the way in which Madrassa function, and also their curriculum, the Rajapaksa regime has made a far-reaching effort in coping with Islamist terror that had taken grip of the island country last year.
And now India must also take a leaf out of the island country’s book if India wants to tackle the burning issue of radicalisation in the country.
The security concerns relating to radicalisation at unregulated and unregistered Madrassa have been in the spotlight for long. Those studying at the Madrassa are a natural target of the radical elements. The young and impressionable minds are easy to indoctrinate. Take the recent case of Uttar Pradesh for example where 33 arrested accused have been charged for provoking children to pelt stones during the violent protests against the CAA.
According to data shared by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2016, 20 per cent of those who joined the ISIS went to Madrassa. Even in the recent spate of arrests relating to the Islamic State in South India, it was revealed that a few members had taken shelter in a Madrassa.
Even security agencies point out that there are several Madrassa in India which are unregistered. Some of them have a radical approach and therefore they could end up becoming radicalising centres within the country.
The fear is not without substance as there have been several such cases of radicalisation. Last year, an NIA team had detained a Madrassa teacher from a Mosque in Ludhiana, Punjab on suspicions of his having links with an ISIS module.
Last month, the NIA also busted an ISIS-inspired module in the National Capital and the state of Uttar Pradesh. Many of those arrested were religious teachers at various Madrassa. The elite counter-terror agency also pointed out that the module was planning a major terror attack ahead of the Republic Day.
Even in 2018, the issue of Madrassa serving as radicalisation centres had come into the spotlight. At that time, the NIA had arrested a Madrassa owner, Abdus Sami from Seelampur in Uttar Pradesh. Sami had been delivering provocative and communally inflammatory speeches in support of the ‘Caliphate’.
One major issue that India is coping with is foreign funding of the Madrassa. Several Madrassas in the state of Kerala are preaching Wahhabi Islam to kids. These Madrasas are also indoctrinating the young, impressionable minds with the idea of an ISIS-like Caliphate. In fact, the Saudi-backed Salafis have already gained a stronghold in the state of Kerala. There is a great deal of evidence about Kerala Madrassas teaching Wahabism, a Saudi sponsored creed linked to terror.
However, the issue of radicalisation at Madrassas and foreign funding is not limited to Saudi Arabia alone. Even Pakistan is involved in financing radical propaganda and a dangerous process of indoctrination at Madrassas in India.
In 2014 itself, India had voiced concerns about the nefarious activities of the Madrasas along the Indo-Nepal border. These Pakistan-sponsored Madrasas were indulging in anti-India propaganda. Not just propaganda, they were also providing safe havens to terrorists who were trying to sneak into India.
In what reveals Pakistan’s nefarious agenda of funding Madrasas in India with ulterior motives, the NIA had busted the Falah-i-Insaniyat module, which was pumping money into India. Falah-i-Insaniyat was established as a “charity” organisation by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamat Ud Dawa. The so-called charity outfit affiliated to the Hafiz Saeed led terror outfit was actually funding Madrasas in an attempt to radicalise youth and children.
In fact, NIA officials believe that the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, wants to establish a terror network in the Delhi-NCR region through his financial wing, FIF. In a bid to achieve his sinister agenda, Hafiz Saeed is also sponsoring several Madrasas in India.
While states like Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir have come under the limelight over the issue of radicalising Madrasas that are targeting young children, who are easier to radicalise and vulnerable to indoctrination.
However, the issue goes beyond the states and areas seen as “vulnerable”. In fact, it has been found that funds were reaching Madrasas located in areas such as Mewat, Haryana. A set of teachers had been arranged by such Madrasas, who tried to radicalise students through their provocative sermons.
Unregulated and unregistered Madrasas are prone to abuse and not just yet radicalism. A couple of years ago, the town of Shahadatganj in Lucknow witnessed a horrific turn of events on New Year’s Eve. The Lucknow Police had arrested Taiyab Jiya, manager of an all-girls madrasa in Shahadatganj after conducting a raid following receiving written complaints from girls against the madrasa manager.
About 125 girls were enrolled at the madrasa in question and almost all of them had to undergo various atrocities. The girls were held hostage, made to dance to vulgar songs, brutally beaten and sexually exploited. At the time of the raid, 51 girls were found to be held hostage in the madrasa who were subsequently rescued.
Such events proving how Madrasas have become vulnerable to the evils of radicalisation and abuse against young children necessitate regulation and registration of Madrasas. While the so-called secular leaders remain reluctant to act against such radicalisation and abuse, India cannot give a free hand to the radical elements to indoctrinate an entire generation with bigotry and anti-India sentiment.
Madrasas across India are being financed by foreign powers with clear anti-India goals, and now registration and revamping of Madrasas on the lines of strict regulation by Colombo seem like the only possible solution for India.