A proposed interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “minority women” during his upcoming Varanasi visit suffered a setback after the local administration on Sunday withdrew its order issuing directives to madrasas in the district for the September 22 event. The order, which assigned each madrasa the responsibility of ensuring the presence of a minimum of 25 “minority women” at the programme, was issued on Friday. The local administration cited protests from madrasas as the reason behind withdrawal of the order.
In the order, Varanasi district’s minority welfare officer R K Yadav had instructed the managers and principals of all aided and non-aided madrasas of Varanasi to ensure the presence of minority women at a DLW auditorium on September 22, when the PM is slated to address them. “….Ukt tithi par alpsankhyak mahilaon ka karyakram stahl par pahunchane ka uttardaitwa apko diya ja raha hai,” it said.
There are 23 aided and 127 unaided madrasas in Varanasi, which are recognised by the UP Madrasa Education Board. At the auditorium, seating arrangements will be made for 700 women. The administration had also called a meeting with madrasa staff on Monday regarding preparations for the event.
“The order has been withdrawn and the meeting scheduled for Monday too has been cancelled following protest from madrasas. The programme of PM’s interaction with minority women has only been proposed so far, and the administration has not received any final minute-to-minute programme of the PM yet,” said R K Yadav, social welfare officer of Varanasi, who is presently holding additional charge of district minority officer as well.
Diwan Saheb Zaman Khan, general secretary of the Teachers’ Association Madaris-e-Arabia, said, “The order of the state government has been opposed because we are running academic institutions and are not workers of BJP or Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM). It should not be our responsibility to ensure gathering in PM’s programme.” Khan is also principal of the Madarsa Arabic Madinatul Uloom, a government-aided madrasa in Jalalipur area. Zaman also claimed that the Association had asked the administration to withdraw the order.
The administration had earlier decided to raise the issue before Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was in Varanasi on Sunday to review preparations for Modi’s visit scheduled for September 22-23. However, later in the day, officers claimed that the issue was not taken up during meeting with the CM.
“The issue was not raised before CM today. Programme could be finalised on Monday as a team of officials will visit DLW auditorium to inspect the venue and hold a meeting there. An officer who has served as district minority officer in Varanasi in the past too has been engaged for the programme because present district minority welfare officer is on medical leave,” said a senior official.
Sources in the district administration said that help from madrasas was sought so that “all chairs are occupied with Muslim women” and the “auditorium appears packed” during the PM’s address. “But it is not going to be a problem. There will be sizeable gathering of Muslim women in the auditorium during PM’s address,” claimed the senior official.