As a fresh controversy erupted in Kerala after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan kept the minority welfare portfolio with himself, a viral message has been doing rounds on social media claiming the state government has spent a hefty amount of over Rs 72 billion as salary to Madrasa teachers.
The message, claiming to have been taken from the data submitted by former minority affairs minister KT Jaleel in the assembly, says Madrasa teachers have got a monthly salary of Rs 25000 from Kerala government. The message has also said that over 20,000 teachers have benefited from the scheme.
The state government, in a reply to an RTI query filed by activist Vilayodi Sivankutty, has categorically denied giving salaries to Madrasa teachers from the Madrasa Teachers Welfare Fund which was constituted after the recommendation by the 11-member Paloli commission in 2008. The document has also clarified that no funds were allowed to Madrasas as well.
KT Jaleel, the former Kerala minority affairs minister, himself has put up a lengthy Facebook post in which he denied the allegations which, according to him, are ‘false propaganda long spread by Sangh Parivar’.
“It was the committee (Paloli commission) which recommended setting up of a Madrasa teachers welfare fund. The legislation brought in by the left government has also suggested taking a share from teachers and the madrasas they are working at. This is nothing different from the usual welfare funds and the government has not allowed any additional funds for the scheme,” Jaleel wrote on Facebook.
The MLA from Thavanur went on to say that there have been widespread communal messages doing rounds regarding the scheme.
According to Jaleel, on the initial stage, there has been an agreement made with Kozhikode Cooperative Bank regarding the Madrasa teachers welfare scheme which was later called off as the teachers felt it’s not right to receive the money which is linked with interest.
Jaleel said the government had taken the concerns from Madrasa teachers into consideration and decided to invest the amount received as share Madrasas and teachers in the government treasury on condition of returning ‘incentives’ to them. “This ‘incentive’ amount is wrongly pictured accusing the government of giving huge amounts to Madrasa teachers,” he said.
According to the data presented by KJ Jaleel, more than 30,000 Madarasa teachers have so far taken part in the scheme and as much as Rs 25 crore collected from teachers and Madrasas has been invested in the government treasury.
Recently, the decision by Pinarayi Vijayan to keep the minority portfolio with him led to a controversy after Indian Union Muslim Leageu termed it as an insult to the Muslim community.
As per reports, the decision was taken overnight after a section of Christian bodies urged the chief minister to take charge of the ministry alleging an ‘imbalance’ in disbursal of minority welfare funds.
A letter, allegedly written by Kerala Catholic Youth Movement, was leaked online which said 80% of the funds for the minority community are going to one particular community.
Pinarayi Vijayan, on the other hand, refuted the allegations and said Muslims have faith in his government. “The Muslim community is a minority. They have faith in me and the LDF government. The Indian Union of Muslim League, who is criticising this, doesn’t have a monopoly over the community,” the Chief Minister said on Friday.
Asheem PK is an independent journalist based in Kerala.