Children at the Madrasa were impatient for the Independence Day celebrations to start
As many Madarsas in Uttar Pradesh celebrated Independence Day under a strict surveillance of police, 150 Madarsas defied the government order and did not sing the national anthem calling it impermissible in Sharia. The notification that was sent out to all the Madarsas in the state by the Uttar Pradesh government on August 4 asked them to celebrate Independence Day by following set guidelines, including singing the national anthem and send the videotape of the event as evidence.
A team from NDTV visited a Madarsa in Bulandshahr by the name of 'Qasmia Arabia Islamia Madarsa' - a 103-year-old educational institution - to see the celebrations on Independence Day following the government orders.
As we reached the Madarsa at 7 in the morning, we saw around 250-300 children wearing traditional Muslim attire, each of them holding a small paper flag, impatient for the Independence Day celebrations to start.
We stayed for the entire event, which started sharp at 8 with hoisting of the national flag, followed by singing the national anthem, a two-hour-long cultural event, which saw students make numerous speeches on patriotism, sing hymns praising the homeland and ended with loud roars of "Jai Hind" and "Hindustan Zindabad." All of which was being videotaped diligently to be sent to the District Minorities Officer.
The notification and video evidence hasn't gone down well with the Madarsa staff and administrators who think it is wrong for the government to ask for proof of their patriotism as they have been celebrating this day every year with zeal and enthusiasm. "Today they've asked us to hoist the flag in Madarsas, we have always been hoisting the flag here. These people need to get their DNA tests done because our DNA has the spirit of freedom struggle, we have no doubt about that" sputtered Madarsa teacher Sariq Siddiqui into the microphone during his speech to the students.
Maulana Quereshi, the manager of Qasmia Islamia Madarsa, argued "Jains, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities also run educational institutions. So why only target Muslim Madarsas? Why have only we been handed this notification and asked to videotape our functions? We condemn this kind of notice."
After sweets were distributed to all students under the surveillance of a camera, just like the notification had mandated, all students left. The celebration ended but in the minds of those who teach and manage the educational institution, a bitter feeling of being singled out and put under the microscope to prove their patriotism and love for their country seemed to have been deeply instilled.
Maulana Siddique, the principal of the Madarsa told NDTV that "We don't get paid for all this you know? We pay from our own pockets and do this because we love our country, we will keep celebrating our national holidays no matter what. I've been the principal here for 12 years and we have celebrated all the national holidays the same way, I don't know what the government wants to portray us as with this notification."