Why Ban FAT Schools?

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The function of education, Martin Luther King once said, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. This adage comes to one’s mind and defies the very definition in the backdrop of sweeping crackdown on Jama’at-e-Islami in Kashmir, and its affiliated institutions.

By Rameez Bhat

A notification released by the Ministry of Human Affairs (MHA) on 28th February 2019 imposed a ban on Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) for a period of five years. This unjustifiable ban wouldn’t only affect the people belonging to Jama’at, but its repercussions will extend to the community as a whole.

This, however, is not the first time that the JeI run Fala-i-aam Trust (FAT) schools have come under such an onslaught. It’s a multitude of times that these schools have been on the radar, yet these institutions continued to flourish by leaps and bounds.

The FAT was formed in 1971, with a noble aim to provide social services to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Since its inception, the trust has been doing wonders in the field of education.

When JeI faced its first ban in 1975, somehow its schools survived till 1990. But when second ban was imposed on Jama’at in April 1990 by Jagmohan administration, the future of thousands of students enrolled in FAT schools at once became uncertain. With third ban on JeI, the same concerns have now resurfaced.

Even as the teachers from FAT were inducted into governmental services during 90s, the latest ban is seen as political vendetta.

Sadly, from global village to digital India, New Delhi still believes that by imposing ban on these schools can make the situation better. It’s a complete misreading of the ground reality.

JeI is not simply an Islamic organization, but a socio, politico, religious organisation, which means they don’t confine their activity to mere sermons with regard to Islamic teachings, but it covers wide spectrum of works which includes, Baitul Maal (charity for downtrodden masses), diagnostic centres, Daral-ul-Ulooms, career counselling centres, and the most important thing is the schools run by FAT.

There’re thousands of JeI-affiliated schools, where around 75,000 students are enrolled and taught by around 10,000 teachers.

This ban on FAT schools implies snatching the fundamental right of education and playing with the future of students. There’re thousands of students belonging to poor families, who pursue their studies in these schools without fee.

On one hand, J&K state is facing unemployment issue, and on the other hand, MHA bans these institutes that are providing employment to thousands of teachers. It would be quite disastrous to impose ban on FAT as numerous families are directly or indirectly linked to this institution.

While New Delhi makes hue and cry about the critical situation in Jammu and Kashmir, at the same time they take recourse to things which can only worsen the already tense situation.

Also, this ban has been imposed despite this institution having produced many brilliant doctors, engineers, bureaucrats, teachers, scientists, professors, athletes, and politicians etc., who not only represent the state at all-India level but at the international level as well. The ban entails violation of the fundamental rights of the Indian constitution as well.

Before the situation takes an ugly turn, it’s better for government to revoke this order, so that these schools run smoothly, thereby saving many people from this avoidable anxiety. 

Author hails from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

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