A minister from India’s federally governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Giriraj Singh, on Wednesday targeted Darul Uloom Deoband and described it as a breeding ground for terrorists like Hafiz Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist.
“I have stated that Deoband is the place of origin of terrorism. All the big terrorists who are born, be it Hafiz Saeed or anyone else, all of them emerge from here", Singh told media in Uttar Pradesh.
Also known as the Deobandi Madrasa, it is known for its Islamic way of education, secular or religious, beginning at the elementary stage and extending to higher learning.
“In Deoband, the child is taught to destroy mankind…It is not a temple of learning, but a temple of terrorism”, he alleged while talking in Saharanpur, where Deoband town is located.
Giriraj Singh’s comment comes against the backdrop of women protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since 27 January in Saharanpur. He had also courted controversy earlier by calling another anti-CAA protest site, Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, a “breeding ground for suicide bombers”.
Darul Uloom Deoband previously sent a memorandum to India’s top court and federal government saying the nationwide movement against CAA was to preserve the secular spirit of the constitution.
Deoband is regarded as a centre of Islamic culture, located just 164 kilometres north of the former capital of the Mughal Empire, Delhi. The organisation regards itself as an international Islamic university and school of thought.
India witnessed widespread protests against the CAA after it was enacted by the federal government in December. The law seeks to grant citizenship rights to “persecuted minorities” from three neighbouring Islamic countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. But it conspicuously left out Muslims from its purview.
Several opposition parties, civic rights bodies, and university students hit the streets to protest the law. They termed the law as discriminatory on religious grounds and against the secular credentials of the country’s constitution.
But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party have explained that the law in no way discriminates bona fide Indian citizens, as it only seeks to grant citizenship rights to immigrants from the three countries.