The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered madrasas across the state to click photographs and record videos of Independence Day celebrations this year, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday. “The letter has been issued with the right intention of helping madrasas organise the event in accordance with a uniform schedule,” Madrasa Shiksha Parishad Registrar Rahul Gupta, who had issued the order on August 3, told the daily.

According to the circular, all madrasas will have to hoist the Tricolour, and sing the national anthem at 8 am on August 15. After the flag hoisting, there should be a speech on the importance of the freedom struggle. The students will have to sing patriotic songs as their tribute to the freedom fighters. Later, they will also have to take part in sporting events. All of these need to be videographed, said the order.

There are about 16,000 madrasas in the state. The order has not gone down well with most of the madrasas, which said it was an attempt to test their patriotism. “A madrasa student is equally patriotic as any other student,” Imam Eidgah Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahli told the Hindustan Times. “There was no need to issue such an order, especially only to madrasas, which have been celebrating the country’s Independence since 1947. I have no objection to it also, provided a similar order is issued to other government schools as well.” Mahtab Amrohi, the manager of the Mehraj-ul-Uloom madrasa in Amroha, told The Hindu that the step was meant to “create suspicion” about Muslims.

Government officials, on the other hand, defended the order, and said it was only to document the best programmes held in madrasas on August 15. Registrar Gupta also denied that it was test of patriotism. “Not at all. We have defined each and every step,” he told The Hindu.