Minority appeasement to preserve vote bank has been a common policy of both the Marxists and Trinamool.
It is this policy that dictates the shutting down of Vidya Bharati schools while sanctioning a whopping Rs 2,500 crore for madrasas in Bengal.
Nationalism, and a correct rendition of Bharat’s history (as opposed to the glorification of invaders and their rule by Marxist historians) is what is taught in the 350-odd Vidya Bharati schools in Bengal. The more than 60,000 students enrolled in these schools are taught Indic values like respect towards elders and for nature, and a sense of righteousness and Dharma instilled in them. And along with classroom teaching, the students are also given physical training which, as Swami Vivekananda said, is critical for development of the intellect.
Now compare this to what is being taught in the 2,000-odd unregistered madrasas in Bengal. Most of these madrasas have mushroomed with funds provided by Wahhabi foundations based in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, where a regressive and medieval form of Islam is enforced. Fundamentalist Wahhabi clerics in these madrasas teach the children that kafirs ought to be eliminated, that idol-worshippers should have their heads chopped off, that non-Muslims have to either convert to Islam or be tortured to death, while their womenfolk have to be raped and enslaved, that the adulterous have to be stoned to death and thieves should have their arms chopped off. The kids are told that waging jihad to make the entire world Islamic is the bounden holy duty of all Muslims.
It would be apparent to any sane and unbiased person that it is these madrasas that need to be shut down and their Wahhabi teachers put behind bars forthwith. However, in a gross travesty of fair play and justice, the Mamata Banerjee government has targeted the nationalist Vidya Bharati schools on the warped and totally false charge that these schools are “fanning religious intolerance”. Fact is that no religious instruction is imparted in the Vidya Bharati schools, unlike the madrasas.
The reason behind the proposed crackdown on Vidya Bharati schools seems to be a sinister one: to appease fundamentalist Islamic clerics who the Banerjee government has been actively wooing to preserve its crucial Muslim vote bank. It is learnt that a number of Muslim clerics and public figures have, over the past couple of years, been complaining to Trinamool politicians about the history being taught in Vidya Bharati schools. They have, for instance, objected to the (correct) portrayal of Aurangzeb as a tyrant who persecuted Hindus, of Babar and other Muslim invaders killing tens of thousands of Hindus and looting and destroying Hindu temples, of Bakhtiar Khilji’s destruction of Nalanda and massacring of thousands of monks, teachers and students there, and of the atrocious exploits of all other Muslim invaders and rulers.
Teaching kids such dark deeds of Muslim invaders, the fundamentalist Islamic clerics have argued (and this has been bought by Trinamool politicians) would create an antipathy among Hindus towards Muslims and, hence, the Vidya Bharati schools need to be shut down. Banerjee has also apparently bought the argument that telling young kids about the shameful exploits of Muslim invaders and rulers of Bharat will sow the seeds of communal disharmony in their minds. Hence, a falsified history written by Marxist historians, who have consistently watered down the rich heritage and culture of Bharat and built a false narrative by glossing over the mass murders, destruction of temples and other dark deeds of Muslim rulers as is being taught in all other schools in the state need to be taught in the Vidya Bharati schools too, feel the fundamentalist Muslim clerics and their Trinamool backers.
The Bengal government, at the behest of the Wahhabi clerics (many of them are paid stipends by Banerjee from taxpayers’ money), has also bought the argument that instilling Indic values and a sense of pride among students about Bharat’s rich heritage and culture (as is being done in the Vidya Bharati schools) goes against the grain of secularism. The warped logic is that if Hindu kids assert their identities and feel proud of their heritage and culture, they would turn against other religions. It is, of course, perfectly fine for Muslim kids in madrasas to learn that beheading kafirs is the holy duty of all Muslims!
There is yet another reason behind the Banerjee government issuing notices to 125 of the 350 Vidya Bharati schools in Bengal. As has been stated earlier, all the Vidya Bharati schools are located in remote rural areas of the state, and many of them are in places in North Bengal populated by scheduled castes and tribes. The presence of Vidya Bharati schools in these areas and the quality education they render has acted as a bulwark against the proselytisation of Christian missionaries. These evangelical Christian missionaries have been frustrated by their inability to harvest souls and have, thus, seen a stark decline in the funds they receive from western countries to proselytise.
These Christian bodies, who also wield a lot of influence on Banerjee, have been very covertly pressurising Trinamool leaders to shut down the Vidya Bharati schools in the state. With this aim, they have been defaming these schools. A few missionaries, for instance, complained to a senior Trinamool minister recently that the physical education and drills in these schools is creating an army of militant Hindus, who will massacre Muslims and Christians in Bengal very soon! Such venom is being spread against Vidya Bharati schools with the sole purpose of shutting them down so that Christian missionaries will be free to set up their own schools and proselytise poor and marginalised Hindus.
Incidentally, an elaborate charade was played out in the West Bengal Assembly on Wednesday (8 March) with a Communist Party of India-Marxist legislator Manas Mukherjee alleging that the Vidya Bharati schools were “fanning religious intolerance”. And Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, as if on cue, immediately fished out a list of 125 Vidya Bharati schools which, he proclaimed, are being put on notice. The list, he said, was handed over to him by Banerjee, who also oversees the home portfolio. It is apparent that the Marxists and the Trinamool were acting in tandem to corner Vidya Bharati schools. Not surprising at all since minority appeasement in order to preserve minority vote banks has been a common policy of both the parties. It is this policy that dictates the shutting down of Vidya Bharati schools while sanctioning a whopping Rs 2,500 crore for madrasas in Bengal.
By Jaideep Mazumdar
He is a journalist with many years of experience in The Times Of India, Open, The Outlook, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and some other news organizations. He has reported on politics, society and many other subjects from North, East and North East India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh.