Schools being run by Vidya Bharati, the educational wing of the Rashtriya Swamysevak Sangh (RSS) in West Bengal are being targeted by the Mamata Banerjee government for allegedly promoting “religious intolerance and fundamentalism”.
The Trinamool Congress government, acting on people’s “complaints”, has issued notices to at least 100 schools that are run by Vidya Bharati, which is headquartered in Lucknow.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said that explanations have been sought from the schools that are run by the Vivekananda Vidya Vikas Parishad (VVP), the Bengal wing of Vidya Bharati.VVP manages around 325 schools that have around 75,000 students.
“Some people had complained that (these) schools are running without getting any objection certificates. We have issued notices and sought explanation,” Chatterjee told this newspaper.
One of the “people” that Chatterjee referred to is CPI(M) MLA from Kamarhati Assembly constituency, Manas Mukherjee, who alleged in the Assembly that “Hindu schools are spreading religious hatred in the name of education, as opposed to the secular education of the state”.
Despite repeated attempts, Mukherjee did not respond to the queries posed by The Sunday Guardian. He excused himself by saying he “was busy” and would respond later.
However, Kolkata based RSS functionaries said that the Left and the TMC were levelling bogus allegations against these schools, as RSS was making inroads in West Bengal.
“The education provided in these schools is excellent. There is nothing wrong in teaching religious texts and epics to our children. Going by what the TMC and the Left say, it is wrong for us to teach the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to our children, but it is right for the madrasas to impart jihadi teachings to their students. Around 10,000 small and big madrasas function in West Bengal without the permission of the government, but that is overlooked by them. However, the same government has a problem when we teach epics to our children. Even children of CPI(M) and TMC leaders study in these schools because the quality of education is better than some government schools in rural and semi urban Bengal. These schools are being targeted because they are related to RSS and targeting RSS has become an easy way to appease the Muslim vote bank in the state,” a Kolkata based RSS functionary said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian, said that these schools have been functioning for decades. “Nothing illegal is being taught in these schools. It is just that these parties want to carry out their appeasement policies and hence they are targeting these schools. West Bengal has become an extended Bangladesh and SIMI and Jammat Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh cadre are flourishing here because of the large scale minority appeasement the West Bengal government. So many riots have happened due to minority appeasement, but no media is reporting that. If it were not for social media, even the Kaliachak and Dhulagarh riots would not have been known to the outside world,” Ghosh said.