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America Annoys Cpm Again

America Annoys Cpm Again

Author: Our Bureau
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: May 5, 2002

The CPM today reacted sharply to the visit of US officials to the Calcutta Madarsa yesterday, calling it "an unnecessary act of interfering in our affairs".

Party secretary and politburo member Anil Biswas said the US team had "kept the government totally in the dark about the visit". "They had made enquiries about the syllabus that is taught at the madarsa when it hardly concerned them. Who are they to enquire about the syllabus? It is entirely our matter," Biswas said.

Minister-counsellor of the US embassy in Delhi James Callaghan had visited the Calcutta Madarsa yesterday with a team of officials. They had interacted with the madarsa authorities, enquiring about the syllabus and placement of students.

Madarsas have become a sensitive issue for the state government after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's comments on unauthorised institutions had triggered a controversy.

The visit seems to be snowballing into another controversy after an earlier trip of officials from the US consulate here to Nanoor in Birbhum district to enquire about the killing of 11 peasants. Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had claimed that the victims were activists of her party and had been hacked to death by CPM cadres. The then chief minister, Jyoti Basu, had sought an explanation from US consul-general Christopher Sandrolini.

School education minister Kanti Biswas, who is also in charge of madarsas, said tonight he had not been informed about the visit. "I got to know about the visit only from the media. However, I shall enquire into the matter," Biswas said. Bhattacharjee, who is away in Midnapore, was not available for comment.

Officials of the Calcutta Madarsa, one of the oldest such institutions in the city, seemed "satisfied" with the visit of the US diplomats. The officer-in-charge of Calcutta Madarsa, Professor Moniruzzaman, said the interaction revolved around the madarsa system of education in Calcutta, its syllabus and curricula, its prospects and plans for future development.

"The US officials had informed us four days earlier about the visit and a number of our senior teachers were present when they visited us," Moniruzzaman said. "It was a very lively interactive session and there was a frank exchange of views on the madarsa system of education."

Moniruzzaman said he found no "deeper political motivation" behind the visit and did not feel the need to inform state officials about it.

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