South Asia

India Islamic school in Deoband sacks reformist leader

Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, former vice-chancellor of India's Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic seminary
Image caption Mr Vastanvi says he is a victim of a conspiracy

India's best-known Islamic seminary has sacked its reformist leader just months after he took over for praising a Hindu nationalist politician.

Darul Uloom Deoband's vice-chancellor Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi had been criticised for praising Bharatiya Janata Party politician Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi is the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

He is widely blamed for doing nothing to stop the 2002 riots in which more than 1,000 Muslims were killed.

Mr Vastanvi had pledged to update the seminary's curriculum and modernise the institution when he took over in January.

His praise for Mr Modi's development policies earned him the ire of conservatives and led to protests.

"Maulana Vastanvi has been removed from the post of vice-chancellor by Majlis-e-Shoora (governing council) of the seminary," Press Trust of India quoted Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani, the new vice-chancellor, as saying.

Mr Vastanvi said he was a victim of a conspiracy.

Correspondents say Darul Uloom Deoband is one of the most respected Islamic theological schools in the region.

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