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India

India's BJP begins targeting minority schools

The BJP says stopping state funding for Muslim schools is in line with secular ideals of India

Nirendra Dev, New Delhi

Nirendra Dev, New Delhi

Updated: October 20, 2020 10:18 AM GMT
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India's BJP begins targeting minority schools

Indian Muslims come back from Pakistan after being stranded amid concerns over the Covid-19 Coronavirus, at the India Pakistan Wagah Border Post, about 35 km from Amritsar on October 19, 2020. (Narinder Nanu / AFP)

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In India's Assam state hundreds of Muslim cleric-run schools, popularly called Madrasas, now face an existential crisis.

Assam's Minister for Education Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced from November onward, the government in the north-eastern state will stop financing the Madrasas.

"Teaching Quran cannot happen at the cost of government money. If we have to do so, then we should also teach both the Bible (of Christians) and Bhagavad Gita (of Hindus). We want to bring uniformity and stop this practice," he said.

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which runs the federal government as well as the Assam state government, has never been shy of taking up pro-Hindu causes. Its new move against Muslim schools shows it has taken the next step – a crackdown on education – in its effort to make India a Hindus-only nation. 

The BJP has a convincing argument for ending state sponsoring of Islamic schools. It argues the move will be an expression of true secularism, which separates religion from the state. Besides, it also ends the tradition of political parties appeasing religious minorities – read India's some 170 million Muslims – for votes.

These are arguments that will be applauded by the majority of Hindus, which is enough for BJP to win their votes– and elections– without campaigning for the votes of Muslims, or Christians the second largest minority of 24 million.

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