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Madrassas in Assam not to remain shut on Fridays

GUWAHATI: Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said government-run madrassas will only have an hour's break for the 'jumma namaz' (Friday prayers) instead of a day's holiday, as there's no official sanction for this.

"Many government-run madrassas, especially in Lakhimpur, Nagaon and Morigaon districts, have been observing holidays on Fridays," said Sarma, adding that the government would soon issue an order to this effect. "This is not officially recognized, nor is it a government-scheduled holiday. We won't allow the closure of madrassas on Fridays. We will make provisions for an hour's break for the Friday prayer," Sarma said.

The lack of 'official sanction', he said, was the reason behind the move. "Friday is a holiday in Bangladesh and Pakistan. As far as I know, there's no law in India which recognizes Friday as a holiday. No circular was issued by the Assam government about a Friday holiday. We're not against any religion. We are enforcing the law," Sarma said.

Sarma's stand triggered angry reactions, especially from Muslim organizations. Former Congress minister Siddique Ahmed said there was a "communally divisive agenda" behind the move and appealed to Muslims to boycott Sarma's public meetings. "India is a secular, democratic country. For years, Friday has been observed as a holiday, especially in madrassas. Other religions also have holidays on days of religious significance. But it's unfortunate that Sarma, as a minister, is comparing India with Bangladesh and Pakistan on the issue of a Friday holiday," Ahmed said.

Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Madrassas-in-Assam-not-to-remain-shut-on-Fridays/articleshow/55676100.cms