The Assam Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to abolish all state-run madrasas and convert them into regular schools. The Congress and All India United Democratic Front opposed the bill and walked out of the Assembly.

Assam Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the passage of the bill on Twitter. “Glad that the Bill pertaining to repeal of Provincialisation of Madrassas has been passed, even as @INCAssam and @AIUDFOfficial expectedly staged a walkout in Assembly,” he said. “All Madrassas, being run under government stands converted into regular educational institute wef [with effect from] April 1, 2021.”

Sarma said that the conversion of madrasas into regular schools will have no effect on the salaries or service terms of the teachers and non-teaching staff members, The Hindu reported. The minister clarified that the government will not try to shut down or regulate private madrasas.

The proposal to shut down the state-run madrasas and Sankrit tols, or schools, was approved by the Assam Cabinet earlier this month. The state government had said that it couldn’t allow imparting religious education with public money.

Also read: Assam Cabinet approves proposal to shut down state-run madrasas, Sanskrit schools

Sarma had told The Indian Express last month that Assam had 610 government-run madrasas. Similarly, there were about 1,000 recognised Sanskrit tols and nearly 100 of them were supported by government funds.

The government had in February decided to shut down the religious institutions and convert them into high schools and higher secondary schools within five months. The decision, however, was sharply criticised by the Hindu and Muslim organisations.

The All Assam Minority Students’ Union had said the decision was in line with the government’s agenda of “harassing Muslims and denying them basic rights” as guaranteed in the Constitution. “Madrasas don’t only teach Islamic scriptures and Arabic, they also teach subjects like any regular school,” it had said in a statement.