Several Hindi news outlets including Navbharat Times and Hindustan published a report claiming about 400 mosques and madrasas in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur district received notices for having illegal electricity connections.
The reports are viral in the backdrop of a survey of 'unrecognised' madrasas being conducted over the next one month by the District Minority Welfare Officers and their teams across the 78 districts of UP.
BOOM found that the reports of Navbharat Times and Hindustan are misleading. The electricity department in Rampur has asked not only mosques and madrasas but all religious places, including temples, to get valid electricity connections at the earliest.
In its report published on September 26 Navbharat Times stated that the UP government was coming down heavily on the mosques and madrasas of the state which were running without a registered electricity connection. The article further mentioned that 400 such mosques and madrasas have been identified in Rampur and notices are being sent to these places which consume electricity via theft.
A similar claim has been made in Hindustan's report published on September 25, 2022. An excerpt reads, "The Electricity Department is eyeing the madrasas and mosques operating without electricity connection in Rampur city. Most of the mosques and madrassas here do not have electricity connection. Electricity department has issued notices to the people responsible for all such mosques and madrasas." (Original text in Hindi: रामपुर शहर में बिना बिजली कनेक्शन के संचालित होने वाले मदरसों और मस्जिदों पर बिजली विभाग की नज़र टिक गई है. यहां ज़्यादातर मस्जिदें और मदरसों में बिजली का कनेक्शन नहीं है. बिजली विभाग ने ऐसी सभी मस्जिदों और मदरसों के ज़िम्मेदार लोगों को नोटिस जारी किया है)
To check the veracity of the claims made by Navbharat Times and Hindustan, BOOM first checked whether 400 madrasas and mosques have been identified in Uttar Pradesh which were operating without a legit electricity connection.
We however did not come across any such news report or statement from the electricity department corroborating the claim made in both these reports.
We then reached out to Bhishma Kumar, executive engineer of the electricity department in Rampur city. Bhishma Kumar told BOOM, "No such notice has been sent. Out of all the religious institutions in Rampur including mosques, madrasas, temples and gurudwaras only a few have connections and others are running without legal connections. We had asked for a list from the police stations regarding the same. The list from one police station has come and two others are yet to come. We have shared a message on social media stating that they should get the connection in a proper legal way in a week. Otherwise, the department will take action. This is meant for all who are defaulters and not for any community in particular."
Kumar further told BOOM, "This is for all those religious places which are running without a registered electricity connection. We have not issued a notice to any of them, it is only a general request. There are three police stations in Rampur city and most of the religious places included in this list do not have valid electricity connection." Kumar also sent us a list of religious places which included 59 temples and 115 mosques in Kotwali police station area and he told BOOM that most of them do not have a registered connection.
Referring to the same list in a Times of India report, it has been stated that 59 temples and 115 mosques in Rampur have been identified for using electricity without a proper connection. We contacted authorities of some of the temples and mosques included in this list. Pradeep Awasthi, the priest of Shiv Temple located in Indra Nagar under Rampur Kotwali area told BOOM that at present no notice has been received from the electricity department.
Jalil Ahmed, cleric of a mosque located in Katkuiya, also reiterated the same and told BOOM that no notice related to the electricity connection has not been received.
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