Madhya Pradesh Culture Minister Usha Thakur claimed on Tuesday that all radicals and terrorists have studied in madrasas, News18 reported.

“If you are a citizen of this country, you could see that all radicals and terrorists have studied in Madrasas,” she claimed. “Jammu and Kashmir was turned into a factory of terrorism.”

She said that such madrasas that fail to link children to nationalism should be brought into mainstream education for the “collective progress of the society”. The BJP legislator cited Assam’s recent announcement to shut down madrasas to support her statement. “Assam has shown it with success... so all those institutions creating hurdles in the way of nationalism will have to be shut down in the national interest,” Thakur said.

On October 9, Assam Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said the government will shut down all state-run madrasas and Sanskrit tols (schools) as it cannot allow teaching religious education with public money. The minister had said the government will issue a formal notification in this regard in November.

When asked specifically if she was calling for the closure of madrasas or discontinuation of government funds, Thakur clarified that she was advocating for the latter. “Waqf board in itself is a competent body,” she said. “If someone wishes to impart religious teachings, in their personal capacity, our Constitution allows them to do so.”

The minister has courted controversy earlier as well. On September 19, she had referred to Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti, a tribal outfit, as “anti-national”, according to PTI. “Despite many patriotic forest dwellers, why anti-national organisations like JAYS [Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti] are thriving in the region?” she had asked at an event in her constituency Mhow in Indore district. “Taking inspiration from the life of Tantya Bhil [a tribal leader of freedom struggle], we should take a pledge that no anti-national organisation flourishes in this area.”

In May 2019, Thakur had called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a “nationalist”. “Godse was a nationalist who was concerned about the country all his life,” Thakur had said.“I believe that [he was] a person who was concerned about the nation throughout his life. What the circumstances were due to which he took this decision [to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi], only he would know. I think you or I should not even comment on it.”

In 2014, she had demanded a ban on Muslim youths entering Navratri Garba venues, according to The New Indian Express.