CUTTACK /SALEPUR: Even as a stunned Government rushed to probe Abdul Rehman Kataki’s madrasa near Bilateruan village under Tangi police limits, shocking conditions in the seminary have come to fore.
The ramshackle structure, unfit for any residential purpose, was crammed with 85 students, some as young as five to six years, in absolute inhuman conditions. Two asbestos-roofed rooms, which could hold a maximum of 10-15 inmates each, doubled up as classroom-cum-dormitories while two tented spaces were used as kitchen and worshipping place.
The madrasa lacked minimum basic facilities like safe drinking water, toilets and latrines and the effect was clearly visible on the inmates. Almost all the children and elder students were afflicted by skin diseases while more than 25 of them suffered from measles.
“The condition in the madrasa is unimaginable. The inmates slept on floors without any winter clothing or blankets. They wore dirty uncleaned clothes and the whole premises and its vicinity were extremely unhygienic. Steps are being taken for their treatment and provisioning basic amenities, clothing and food,” Cuttack child welfare committee chairman Bikash Mohapatra said.
While School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra has sought a detailed report on the status of the madrasa and its functioning, the district administration and education officials visited the seminary on Thursday.
It was found that the madrasa was established in 2012 with 20 students mainly from Jharkhand as Abdul Rehman was active in religious activities in the neighbouring State. Now, there are 85 students of which 74 are from Jharkhand, five from Uttar Pradesh and six from Odisha. However, after the arrest of Abdul Rehman, parents and guardians of some students rushed to the place and took them away. By evening, 65 inmates had left.
The madrasa, named Jamiat-ul-Harmain, was functioning privately without any registration or recognition by the Government. It had two Maulanas, Kataki and Mehboob Alam from Jharkhand. There were four Hafizs (deputies) including one Abdul Wahid from Bhubaneswar and three others from the neighbouring State. The madrasa was funded by Al Harmain Trust, Abdul Wahid told this paper.
Meanwhile, the developments have spurred the Education Department and Odisha State Board of Madrasa Education (OSBME) to action. A detailed stock-taking of madrasas in terms of infrastructure and facilities would be undertaken soon, sources said.
There are 157 registered madrasas in the State of which one is fully Government, 78 aided, 76 bloc grant and 12 are recognised. They have around 26,893 students and impart education from primary level to higher studies. There is one madrasa offering post-graduate level education.
The institutions follow syllabus prescribed by OSBME. They teach Odia, English, Science, Maths and History besides theological studies of Quran, Fequah (the Namaz prayer system), Arabic and Urdu. “The registered institutions are monitored for educational standards, infrastructure and facilities,” OSBME vice-president Snehamayi Senapati said.
However, there are numerous private madrasas running in different parts of the State without any regulation or monitoring. Some of them apply for Government recognition. “At present, there are around 50 applications for registration under process. We will enquire if the said madrasa run by Rehman had applied for registration or not,” Senapati added.