Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal is set to impose hefty fines on schools that it says are running without no-objection certificates (NOCs), the Times of India has reported.
Majority of the schools that are believed to be under the state government’s scanner are run by trusts that are considered close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and have been accused by the government of "fanning religious intolerance" and "deviating from the state-mandated syllabus".
The move, that will lead to non-NOC schools paying Rs 1 lakh as fine for not having certificates and up to Rs 10,000 per day till they fall in line, will require an amendment to the West Bengal Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, laid down by the state government in 2012.
According to the daily, these schools have been issued a show-cause notice and verbal orders to shut them down have also been issued. Having failed, the government is now using a provision in the Right to Education Act (RTE) that allows the state governments to conduct spot inspection and revoke the recognition of a school. However, no reports related to the issue suggest that the government has engaged in inspection.
Here, it is important to recall that Banerjee had in 2011 revealed her plan to recognise 10,000 madrassas in West Bengal without levying any conditions on them. Most of these religions institutions, as a matter of public knowledge, openly flout rules and do not follow the syllabus mandated by the state government.
Therefore, one may ask why the government has acted so proactively against schools run by trusts that are believed to be close to RSS. The answer lies in Banerjee’s agenda of targeting everything that looks saffron to counter Bharatiya Janta Party’s rise.
The Centre, on its part, has failed to revoke the RTE Act, that has not just proved detrimental to learning, but has also been used as a tool to communalise education.
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