By Zia Ur Rehman
December 21, 2018
Expressing concern over arrests and harassment of religious scholars and prayer leaders, a representative body of Deobandi seminaries in the country has demanded that the government ease the registration process for madrasas and stop harassing clerics in the name of data collection.
The demand was made at a meeting of clerics and prayer leaders of mosques organised on Thursday by the Wifaqul Madaris Al-Arabia (WMAA), a representative board of madrasas of Deobandi school of thought, at Jamia Farooqi, Karachi.
The meeting was presided over by Maulana Adil Khan while the participants included Maulana Imdadullah Yousafzai, the board’ provincial head, along with Mufti Muhammad Naeem, Maulana Qari Abdul Rasheed, Mufti Muhammad Khalid, Maulana Dr Saeed Khan Sikandar, Qari Muhammad Usman, Dr Qasim Mehmood, Maulana Yousaf Afshani, Maulana Manzoor Mengal and others.
According to a statement issued by the WMAA, the meeting asked the federal government to assign the responsibility of dealing with the affairs of madrasas exclusively to the federal education ministry. Currently, the affairs of madrasas are being dealt with by the interior and religious affairs ministries along with the National Counter-Terrorism Authority.
The Deobandi madrasas’ body further demanded that the government deal with the madrasas’ affairs at the federal level instead of provincial levels.
The Deobandi religious scholars also asked the government to review the process of registration of madrasas and make amendments in it so that the registration applications are not required to be sent to the home department. “Because of the complex procedure of registration and compulsion of clearance from various governmental bodies, it takes several months in the name of inquiries,” the statement reads. It was also demanded of the government that it instruct the banks not to make hurdles for madrasas in opening their bank accounts.
Commenting on the distribution of forms for collecting information, the WMAA said the madrasas were not against providing information to the government and law enforcement agencies; however, they had reservations about the way it was being accomplished.
“On a daily basis, personnel of various law enforcement agencies harass the madrasas officials in the name of data collection. We demand that the government assign one body for one-window operation for collecting the particulars of the madrassas,” the body said.
The WMAA also expressed concern over whisking away of principals of various madrasas. Last week, officials of law enforcement agencies in plainclothes raided Madrassa Munba ul Uloom in the Manghopir neighborhood in the wee hours and picked up its principal Maulana Naseeb Mengal along with another cleric Maulana Saifullah. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
“We demand that the government reveal whereabouts of the religious clerics picked up by law enforcement personnel mysteriously and present them in a court if they have some legal complaints against them,” the body demanded.
The WMAA also decried the restrictions imposed on madrasas on the collection of hides of sacrificial animals during Eidul Azha and the arrests made in this regard. Rejecting the Punjab government’s charity bill, the WMAA termed it a curb on madrasas’ freedom and a move to deprive students from acquiring religious education. The Deobandi madrasas’ body said they would not tolerate such laws and propaganda against seminaries.