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Intelligence chokes over clean chit to madarsas

Intelligence chokes over clean chit to madarsas

Author: Pramod Kumar Singh
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 3, 2006

For Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, madarsas are seats of learning and scholarly pursuit. In a speech at the Ahle-Hadeeth complex in Jamia Nagar on July 24, he merrily gave a clean chit to madarsas saying, "We believe that Islamic madarsas are seats of social service. They are not the centres of terrorism."

But the Minister's words delivered in the aftermath of the serial bomb blasts on Mumbai trains were in sharp contrast to the information of his own security agencies.

Intelligence agencies have irrefutable evidence to suggest that a majority of these madarsas are not only breeding grounds of terror but are also in league with anti-India forces to bleed it through a 100 cuts.

There are over 350 madarsas within 10 km of the Indo-Nepal border in the Indian side. In central and eastern Uttar Pradesh more madarsas have come up than in the western part.

Agencies mention border districts of Siddharth Nagar, Maharajgnaj, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur and Lakhimpur Kheeri in this connection.

In the 10km belt of the bordering districts of Bihar such as West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Saupal, Araria and Kishanganj over 180 madarsas have come up after 1993.

What has rung alarm bells in security set ups is the setting up of madarsas on the Nepal border. Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and terrorist outfits have been funnelling funds and recruiting jihadis from these schools of subversion, intelligence sources said.

Getting back to the Home Minister. In the same speech he had said, madarsas, where knowledge of humanism is being imparted and where human values are taught, could only be termed as "servants of humanity."

Intelligence agencies are not too sure about the syllabi, but they say that the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), accused of masterminding the 11/7 serial blasts, has a sizeable following in these madarsas. Many are financed by petro-dollars and share a close association with ISI agents while their premises are used as hideouts for Kashmiri militants, ISI agents, gunrunners and criminals. They also serve as transit camps for terrorists.

Patil went on to say that some vested interests were trying to break the social fabric, communal harmony and brotherhood in society which the Government would not allow.

But what about the charities in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan with al-Qaeda connections which flush funds to madarsas that recruit willing jihadis? Funds come to NGOs in Bangladesh and are routed to India. Intelligence sources maintain that these madarsas are in receipt of huge funds from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Managers of various madarsas and Ulemas maintain close links with the embassy officials of these countries at Kathmandu.

Financial assistance is also channelised through the Islamic Development Bank at Jeddah and Habib Bank of Pakistan.

Habib Bank after becoming a partner of the Himalaya Bank, Nepal, has expanded its network in border areas of Birat Nagar and Krsihna Nagar. Security agencies say foreign currency brought through Habib Bank is converted into Indian currency and then channelised to madarsas.

Another headache for the Indian security agencies is the unbridled growth of madarsas along Indo-Bangladesh border which has 955 mosques and 445 madarsas in 22 bordering districts of West Bengal on the Indian side and 976 mosques and 156 madarsas in 28 districts on Bangladesh side. 57 mosques and 88 madarsas have been constructed on the Indian side in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura during the last few years.

Agencies have warned about the activities of such schools in Himachal Pradesh too. There are extremely disturbing intelligence reports about the activities of 35 odd madarsas operating in seven districts of the State. Even in the Western border of the country, Rajasthan to Gujarat, the situation is deteriorating as can be seen from the fact that in border district of Jaisalmer only, madarsas and muktabs are now more than 100 in number, which was not even in double figure in 1980.

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