Thursday, April 1, 2010

Madrassas: Are they becoming terror factories?

Madrasa education in India has always been under scrutiny ever since terrorism has become the primary concern of the nation. While the 21000 odd Madrasas operating in India have the stamp of approval of the both the state government and the Wakf Board, the real concern for Indian security agencies are the number of illegal Madrasas which are coming up at quite a quick speed.

A study conducted over the past one year by Indian agencies goes on to show that there are at 3000 illegal Madrasas that have come up in various parts of the country in the past one year which are operating without the approval of any authority. The Intelligence Bureau says that there are efforts on to neutralize these Madrasas and the state authorities have been tipped off about the same. With a lot of heat being generated on sleeper cells and modules, Pakistan based agencies thought it would be best to start off Madrasas to carry out their business.

Reports regarding these illegal Madrasas go on to show that they have been set up on the Jammat-ud-Duwa format. It is a one point strategy and that is a hate India campaign which is being taught over there. One of the teachers at a Madrasa in Mysore on condition of anonymity told that there were certain issues pertaining to the syllabus which was being taught at the Madrasas. The original thought before setting up a Madrasa was to teach religion, but we have decided to make a change and have agreed to the proposal of teaching Maths and also English at the Madrasas. Each district has a Chief Madrasa which is answerable to the Endowment Department which in turn will scrutinize the activities of every Madrasa under it. Hence there is no question of any illegal activity, he also stated.

The IB however points out that the legal Madrasas are not the problem. The biggest problem are the illegal ones which have come up in quite a large number. The last year alone saw 3000 of them being set up. However the number of illegal Madrasas is on the rise. In all there are around 9000 such Madrasas in the country with Maharashtra and Kerala topping the list with 3000 and 2800 respectively. In the past two years, the ISI has ensured that the funding for such Madrasas takes place unabated and has managed to pump in nearly Rs 20 crore to start such illegal institutions. These institutions do not report to the Wakf Board of the Endowment Department and function by themselves. The syllabus when compared to the legitimate Madrasas are completely different in nature. There is a prescribed syllabus in the Madrasas in Pakistan and the same has been adapted and used in these illegal institutions. The syllabus is very much based on the Anwar al-Awlaki thought which has been adopted by the JuD and is being taught in almost every Madrasa in Pakistan. Not only does Anwar al-Awlaki speak about the 44 different ways to perform Jihad, but his teachings also instill a sense of hate against India and the West. The illegal Madrasas in India too are adopting to the same teachings and the teachings prescribed by Awlaki and the JuD are being taught right from the secondary levels.

The indoctrination in these illegal Madrasas begins at Class V itself with the students being taught that it was the Hindus who helped the British set up their empire in India. In Class 6 and 7, the students are clearly told that there is no way in which they should reconcile with India since the only way to attain total freedom is by fighting and becoming martyrs. There are various other anti-India aspects that are present in the syllabus being taught in these illegal Madrasas.

Sources say that this is a new strategy that has been adopted by terrorist outfits to further their activities in India. They have realised that the best way to further their cause is by changing a mindset. Earlier these outfits had sleeper cells and recruitment cells through which they picked up people to wage a war against India. However what they have increasingly realised is that such people are vulnerable since they are not fundamental jihadis. Groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba have been on the look out for jihadis who are fundamentalist by nature since they have proven to be more effective in the past. The recruits that they have managed to pick from India are those who have grown up in a normal set up and it is only later due to one particular incident or the money that they become terrorists. The commitment levels among such persons is very low. Hence by introducing the JuD styled Madrasas they feel that children right from Class V can be tuned to think like them so that they become extremely fundamental and fanatic by nature by the time they grow up.

Moreover tracking such Madrasas is also a big problem, since they keep shifting their base every now and then. There is also very little chance of generating any sort of heat since security personnel normally do not tend to suspect a gathering where there are a few 20 children who appear to be learning from a teacher.

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