The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Babri warriors have no time for school

April 1: This is one area that has escaped the attention of the Shahabuddins, Bukharis, Nadvis, Madnis, Illyasis and Jeelanis fighting for the cause of the Babri Masjid over a decade.

A study on Muslims in the rural areas of Faizabad — which includes ground zero Ayodhya — has found that poverty and negligence are responsible for keeping as many as 60 per cent children in the 4-6 age group out of school.

The survey by an NGO reveals that residents of scores of Muslim-dominated villages lack primary schools and madarsas.

What is more disturbing is the apathy of community leaders and politicians of all hue, who are engaged in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid battle. No financial or moral support is available to individuals fighting poverty and illiteracy.

Nor is there any visible effort to impart religious education through madarsas or mosques, which often offer basic literacy infrastructure.

At Mohammadpur village in Sohawal block, there is one primary school catering to 43 Muslim families. Out of 183 children — 101 boys and 82 girls — only five boys managed to reach junior high school. Girls are less fortunate — 25 out of 82 girls were enrolled in primary school and all of them dropped out.

In Bhawaniyapur in the same block, there is no primary school. But the 187 children from 48 Muslim families can access a government-funded primary school in an adjoining village. Only 62 children — 37 boys and 25 girls — go to the school.

At Fatehpur Sariya village, which has no primary school, a local madarsa offers basic literacy. Out of 239 children under 18, only four boys reached high school.

Mirzapur Mafi is better off — the village has a primary school and a mosque. But the 80 children from 32 Muslim families have no access to education beyond high school. Only one boy has gone up to the 10th standard.

In Tahsil Rudauli, there are no primary schools or madarsas in Junaidpur and Mawai Chauraha villages. Out of 190 Muslim children, 130 do not go to school or madarsa at any level.

In village Solemanpur, the number of boys not attending school goes up to 180 out of 210. Among girls, the figure is 120 out of 165.

The painstaking survey has been conducted by Irfanullah, a retired engineer, with the help of Mohd Akhtar Siddiqui, the principal of an intermediate college in Faizabad. Irfanullah runs the Faiz-e-Aam Muslim School and the Darsgah-e-Islami Society.

Inspired by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of Aligarh, Irfanullah said he wants to create an awakening among the Muslim intelligentsia and masses.

An Aligarh Muslim University alumnus, Irfanullah has one dream — to launch a fresh “Aligarh movement” so that Muslims can become part of the “national mainstream” in terms of socio-economic index.

Irfanullah has been sending his survey reports and findings to several influential Muslim leaders and bodies, such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. But he seldom receives acknowledgement letters.

The dismal educational indicators come at a time when the entire political class, including the BJP, has been eyeing the “Muslim votebank”.

In some Urdu dailies, there have been letters to the editor demanding a CBI probe into the assets of several leading lights of the Babri Masjid Action Committee between 1992-2004. The allegation is that some of them prospered while the community suffered.

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