Uttar Pradesh’s madrasas have been asked to photograph and videograph Independence Day celebrations this year.While madrasas have criticised the order, calling it an attempt to test the patriotism of Muslims, government officials claimed that the move was only to document the best programmes held in madrasas on August 15. The controversy was triggered by a circular issued by the Madrasa Shiksha Parishad (MSP), the board that deals with examinations in madrasas, on August 3. The document laid out elaborate directions on how Independence Day celebrations should be conducted in madrasas.The circular was issued to the deputy directors (minority welfare) and district minority welfare officers, who would then ensure the implementation of the order. In directing madrasas to conduct “photography and videography” of the programmes, the MSP has argued that it was to identify the “best programmes” so that they could be “replicated”.Madrasas have accused the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government of attempting to test the patriotism of Muslims. Mahtab Amrohi, manager of the Mehraj-ul-Uloom madrasa in Amroha, said the government’s monitoring was aimed at “creating suspicion” about Muslims. Not only did madrasas have a tradition of singing the national anthem on August 15, even on other days of the year, daily proceedings at his institution began only after the singing of the anthem, he said. Heads of madrasas also questioned why the government had not issued similar orders to other institutions run by the State, and to other religious communities.Suhebur Rehman, the Allahabad-based convener of the All-India United Ulema Forum, said the BJP government was “targeting Muslims” by asking them to produce “proof” of their patriotism.”Have they sent a similar notice to Sanskrit schools, municipalities, schools, colleges and other institutions? Why are they examining the patriotism only of Muslims,” asked Mr. Rehman.Government officials defended the circular. “The order was issued with a good intention. It clearly says that the videography is for the purpose of promoting good programmes,” said Rahul Gupta, registrar, Madrasa Shiksha Parishad, who issued the order.He dismissed the idea that the circular was to test patriotism in madrasas. “Not at all. We have defined each and every step. In fact, we don’t mind if there are anomalies or discrepancies in following the directions,” Mr. Gupta said.