Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government has directed all madrassas (Islamic schools) to hold celebrations on Independence Day and videograph the event, according to minority welfare minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary. Chaudhary's junior minister Baldev Aulakh even warned of action against madrassas which do not follow the order.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli, however, questioned the need for the directive and whether it was only for madrassas or for all schools "If it is only in madrassas, does it mean that our patriotism is being suspected?" he said.
The event to be held on August 15 should include hoisting the tri-colour, singing the national anthem and paying tributes to freedom fighters, an official circular said.
Defending the move, Chaudhary told PTI that the celebration will inspire students and they will learn more about the contribution of the freedom fighters.
He said the children can treasure the memories of the Independence Day celebrations through the photographs and videos which will also act as a source of inspiration for others.
Aulakh, who is Minister of State for minority welfare, said, "We have asked for videography of all programmes. We can check at random as to which madrassa has celebrated it or not".
"If any madrassa does not celebrate it, action will be taken against it," he said, without elaborating.
Madrassas get financial assistance from the state government. At present, around 8,000 madrasas in UP are recognised by the government body UP Madrassa Shiksha Parishad. Among these, 560 are fully aided by the state.
Aulakh also dismissed objections to the circular.
Asked if did not amount to putting pressure on madrassas, the MoS said, "Students should know about the lives of freedom fighters."
"Everyone should know the role played by our freedom fighters in ensuring that the country is freed from the yoke of British rule. Their great lives are taught in schools and it should be imparted in madrassas as well," he said.
On whether the circular was tantamount to keeping a watch on them, Aulakh said, "Why this feeling has crept in? Just a circular has been issued. Those who have been celebrating the Day should not have any objection.
"This is a national festival. Madrassas take funds and facility from the government. If the government has issued any such circular, then you must enthusiastically participate in the Independence Day celebrations and there should be no objection."
"We have asked for videography of all programmes. Whatever programme is held anywhere should be videographed. We will have the information about madrassas that celebrated the Independence Day.
"We can also ask any madrassa about the Independence Day celebrations. If there is any anomaly in celebrating the national festival, which symbolises patriotism and love for the nation, naturally, action will be taken."
Chaudhary said, "Unlike the previous governments, which indulged in politics of appeasement, we are a government with nationalist bent of mind."
The BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath took over the reins of the state in March.
"Every citizen born in India celebrates different festivals ranging from Holi, Diwali, Eid and Lohri. But when it comes to national festivals, they are celebrated by the entire nation.
"And, the madrassas should not exclude themselves from participating in the national festivals," Chaudhary said.
The minister said celebrations in madrassas on Independence Day will be videographed and photographed so that good programmes can be encouraged and repeated in future.
"Today is an era of technology. The videos made during the Independence Day can be shared among the students. They can treasure the memories of the Independence Day celebrations.
Apart from this, it will act as a source of inspiration for others," he said.
Asked as to what prompted the government to issue the above directives to the madrassas, Chaudhary said, "Directives were issued as the government recognised that madrassas get funds from the state government and are supposed to celebrate the national festivals including Independence Day."
"Through different cultural programmes, the students will be made aware of the rich history of the freedom struggle and the heroic deeds of our revolutionaries and martyrs. They will definitely draw inspiration from their heroic tales."
Taking a swipe at political rivals, he said, "Those who are trying to impute motives and suspecting the intention of the government, I doubt their nationalist credentials."
According to the circular, on Independence Day, flag hoisting and recitation of the national anthem will take place at 8 am. Following this, tributes will be paid to the martyrs of the freedom struggle.
Students will sing songs on nationalism and will be told about the history of August 15 and the freedom fighters.
Besides, cultural programmes will be organised on the theme of national unity, along with sports activities.
Sweets will be distributed at the end of the session.
The circular asks minority welfare officers to direct all madrassas to ensure that Independence Day is celebrated with zeal and that all the programmes mentioned in the directive are organised.
Mahli, however said, "We have been been celebrating I-Day since 1947 in madrassas, hoisting the national tri-colour and singing the national anthem. What is the intention behind the order?"
He also asked whether the videography will be held in all schools or just madrassas.
Welcoming the move, BJP leader Romana Siddiqui said, "Every institute in the country celebrates the Independence Day with full patriotic fervour, then why should the madrassas lag behind.
"If convents and missionary schools celebrate Independence Day by holding a number of events, then why not the madrassas.