UP Madrasas Defy Yogi Order,Refuse to Sing National Anthem

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New Delhi: Most of the madrasas across Uttar Pradesh defied a controversial state government diktat that asked staff and students at these institutions to sing the national anthem and videograph Independence Day celebrations.

In Kanpur, Meerut and Bareilly, three of the biggest madrasa centres in the state, students sang Saare Jahan Se Achha, a 20th century patriotic song penned by the poet Mohammad Iqbal and didn’t record proceedings, saying they didn’t want to give proof of their patriotism, the Hindustan Times reported.

The controversy was sparked by a circular passed by the Yogi Adityanath government last week that asked the Islamic schools to hoist the Tricolour and sing the national anthem at 8 am. The order, which made photography and videography of the event mandatory, argued that visual proof would help the board in encouraging participants to better their performance in the future.

But many of the state’s 16,000 madrasas didn’t take the order well and many prominent clerics publicly opposed the order. UP has one of the highest proportions of Muslims in the country, nearly a fifth, and just 600 of the madrasas are government aided.

In Bareilly, students at the Manzar-e-Islam – the biggest Barelvi madrasa in the city – hoisted the Tricolour but didn’t sing the national anthem. Instead, around 500 students gathered at the open prayer hall to sing ‘Sare jahan se achha’. The madrasa authorities also refrained from videography. Mediapersons were not allowed to cover the main event, which lasted for over an hour.

Clerics justified their decision, alleging the national anthem 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,” Asjad Miyan, a descendant of 20th century Islamic religious leader Ahmed Raza Barelvi said in a statement.

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