By Mohammed Anas
24th Aug 2013
The demolition of a 200-year-old madrasa in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur district last week has been ignored by the Akhilesh Yadav government, which earlier took a proactive role in suspending Noida sub district magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal for razing an illegally-built mosque wall. The madrasa was razed allegedly at the behest of UP Minister of Waqf and Minority Affairs, Azam Khan, who is also a resident of Rampur.
The only action taken by the government in this case is the arrest of social activist and writer Kanwal Bharti, who wrote a Facebook post criticising the Akhilesh Yadav government for ignoring the destruction of the madrasa.
According to Rampur locals, Madrasa Aliya was torn down by municipal officials on the complaint of the Department of Minority Affairs. "The municipal officers said that since the madrasa stands on a graveyard owned by the state Waqf board, it is illegal and deserves to be removed. There was a strong protest by the locals, which even led to social unrest, but the officials broke the structure citing 'orders from above'," said Faisal Khan, a resident.
Faisal said that Madrasa Aliya was one of the oldest madrasas in India and was built by the Nawab family of Rampur in 1774. He alleged that a feud between Azam Khan and the trust members of the madrasa led to its destruction. Members of the madrasa trust said that the municipal officials served no prior notice to them.
"They only came with a police party and bulldozer to raze the structure. Their argument that it's a Waqf property does not hold ground as many madrasas are Waqf properties and are run like that. Despite our repeated demands, they have not even shown us any documents,' said Babbu Khan, a trust member. He claimed that he earlier used to be a political associate of Azam Khan and his recent fallout with the senior SP leader is the main reason behind the madrasa demolition. "Azam Khan once donated Rs 1 lakh to the madrasa. How can he now see it as an illegal structure?" asked Khan.
When this correspondent checked about the legal status of the demolished building with the municipal officers of Rampur and the Department of Minority Affairs, UP government, they refused to produce any documentary proof. "But there is a strong public perception that the madrasa was illegally built on graveyard land," said one official.
Azam Khan refused to comment on the issue, but his aide Fasahat Shanu, on whose complaint Bharti was arrested, said that razing the illegal structure built on government land is one of the priorities of Khan, who is also Minister for Urban Development.
When asked about the similarity between the action on Durga Shaki Nagpal and the government's inaction in Rampur, a spokesman for the Samajwadi Party said that they have a senior leader in the city and they trust his wisdom to decide on public affairs.
Meanwhile, to cash in on public sentiments, Congress workers in Rampur have started collecting money to rebuild the madrasa.