Banning the schools

JeI run schools were used to promote anti-India feeling among youths in Kashmir
The J&K government has derecognised all the FAT schools functional in J&K besides issuing orders for sealing of these “banned institutions” within 15 days.
The J&K government has derecognised all the FAT schools functional in J&K besides issuing orders for sealing of these “banned institutions” within 15 days.File/ GK

BY RAJA MUNEEB

The latest decision of Jammu and Kashmir government to de-recognise a network of schools run by banned Jamat-e-Islami (JeI) under the banner of Falah-e-Aam Trust (FAT) is a welcome decision as the network of such schools were being used to further promote anti-India feeling among young boys in the Valley.

The JeI, a politico-religious group that has been active in Jammu and Kashmir since 1942, has several trusts under its aegis for running schools to disseminate orthodox Islamic ideology.

Right from 1990, the network was being used to promote the activities of secessionism and a good percentage of locals who joined terrorist groups were associated with the JeI, either through educational institutions run by it or religious activities.

The investigations by the State Investigation Agency (SIA) has found that almost all the FAT schools numbering in hundreds have been found to be existing on illegally acquired government and community lands wherein lands were occupied by coercion, at gunpoint as well as colluding with revenue officials who made wrong entities in revenue documents by committing fraud and forgery.

The SAI investigations have also revealed the destructive role played by these educational institutions in large scale unrests of 2008, 2010 and 2016 and bringing huge miseries to common people and forcing them for shutdowns by threat, intimidation and street violence. However, there is much more to the credit of these JeI backed schools. Right from the 1970’s, these schools have covertly acted as epicenters of the anti-India sentiment.

The students in these schools were being radicalised by preachers rather than the teachers. While in 1970’s and 1980’s these schools were mostly running on public donations and lacked resources, with the eruption of the militancy, crores of rupees started flowing to the FAT.

As the JeI had a huge number of covert trusts, a part of the money was also used in subversive activities. It is no secret that hundreds of schools run by the FAT of the JeI are better than the government schools in infrastructure and the quality of teaching.

These schools combine modern scientific education and Islamic teachings. As the JeI has substantial penetration even in the UT’s lower and middle-level civil administration, civil secretariat, colleges and universities, legal fraternity, powerful financial institutions, political groups, and the police department, the bans imposed on its schools in the past couldn’t achieve any results.

In the past, the JeI’s sympathisers in the government system advised them to de-affiliate a major chunk of schools and run these under some other banner. Most of these JeI controlled schools today are not being run under the banner of the FAT, but under some other names. Chief Education Officers (CEOs) and Zonal Education Officers (ZEOs), a good percentage of whom in the last three decades had the JeI background have managed to register these schools under some other names and banners.

Spokesperson of the JeI Advocate Zahid Ali Lone in a social media post on Tuesday corroborated this: “…..There’s nothing to worry as FAT is not banned now. The 1989 ban expired in 1991. This order pertains to those schools only which were mentioned in and part of the writ petition.

This order has nothing to do with the FAT of today as it is lawfully functioning and has no affiliation with any political party or religious organizations but is a non-political independent educational institution (Trust) meant for the promotion of education according to the government approved syllabus. There’s no need to panic! Be comfortable! (sic).”

This time also the JeI and its sympathizers in the system will try to come to their rescue by projecting FAT run schools as independent. But in reality the JeI network has more than 350 schools, where nearly one lakh students are enrolled and five thousand teachers work.

It is imperative on the government to rehabilitate the students in other schools and also provide employment to these teachers after proper scrutiny.

Those teachers who have links with terrorists or separatists must be shown the door while those who are bonafide teachers must be provided with alternative jobs.

It is a no secret that the JeI, which was banned by the Center in February 2019, patronized Hizbul Mujahideen and was the backbone of the indigenous terror outfit.

If one goes through the archives of local newspapers of early 1990s, it will be found that the HM was being called as armed wing of the JeI and would help in arranging logistics, weapons, and shelter for the terrorists and in facilitating their movements.

However, by mid 1990s when security forces gained the upper hand against the terrorists, the JeI cleverly distanced itself from the HM. It’s then ameer (chief) Ghulam Mohammad Bhat in a strategic move in 1997 announced that the JeI had no direct or indirect link with the Hizbul.

However, no one dared to question him then why it took the JeI seven years to distance itself with the terrorist organization. The JeI has been banned twice in the past.

The first ban continued for two years and the next ban was effective for three years. JeI was banned first in 1975 by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the former Prime Minister of J&K. It was banned again in 1990 when Mufti Mohammad Syed, the founder of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was Union Home Minister.

The JeI follows the teachings of Maulana Maududi, Syed Qutb, and Hasan Al Banna- the society and politics should be conducted in line with the divine law of Sharia.

It is an extremist organization and in social domains, it is conservative, fundamentalist, exclusivist and orthodox. And any schools or institutions run by it covertly or overtly will have the same ideology.

Soon local politicians like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah will start a campaign by denouncing the ban on the FAT run schools.

But Abdullah and Mufti must remember that the previous two bans were imposed by the government during Omar’s grandpa’s tenure in 1975 and when senior Mufti was Union Home Minister. If the JeI was a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the state then, it is a bigger threat now.

(Raja Muneeb is a Columnist)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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