Independence Day row: Barelvi madrasas defy Yogi govt order on national anthem
Bareilly’s Barelvi madrasas on Tuesday openly defied the Uttar Pradesh government’s directive that the national anthem be mandatorily sung at all such Islamic educational institutions across the state on the occasion of Independence Day.
While students at the Manzar-e-Islam – the biggest Barelvi madrasa in the city – hoisted the Tricolor in the presence of teachers, they did not chant the national anthem. Instead, around 500 students gathered at the open prayer hall to sing ‘Sare jahan se achha’, a patriotic song in Urdu by poet Muhammad Iqbal. The madrasa authorities also refrained from videographing the occasion, as directed by the government.
Mediapersons were not allowed to cover the main event, which lasted for over an hour.
“Traditionally, we do not sing the national anthem during Independence Day or Republic Day celebrations. We only followed convention this time,” a senior cleric told HT on the condition of anonymity.
The decision to oppose the government order was taken by senior cleric Asjad Miyan, a direct descendant of 20th century Islamic religious leader Ahmed Raza Barelvi.
Ahmed Raza’s dargah (shrine) in Bareilly is the most revered religious site for members of Sunni Islam’s Barelvi sect. It manages over a thousand other dargahs in various parts of the state, 300 of which are situated in Bareilly and nearby districts.
Barelvi clerics had justified their decision to forbid singing of the national anthem at the madrasas under their jurisdiction by alleging that it was written in praise of George V, the then king of England. “Singing of the national anthem belittles the struggle of our freedom fighters. Thereby, it has been unanimously decided that such songs will not be sung on Independence Day,” they said in a press release.
The order, however, was followed by a few government-funded Barelvi madrasas in the city.
Ahmed Faraaz, a 14-year-old student at the Manzar-e-Islam madrasa, said he remembers the national anthem verbatim. “However, I will sing it only if our teachers ask us to,” he said.
Faraz and his friends sang ‘Saare jahan se accha’ this Independence Day.
Meanwhile, district administration officials seemed to be in no hurry to act against madrasas that did not mandate the singing of the national anthem. “We will look into the matter and take action. However, I believe the government’s order was followed at all madrasas in the district,” said district minority welfare officer Jagmohan Singh.
District magistrate Raghvendra Vikram Singh also claimed that most madrasas adhered to the government order.
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