A private school in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad found itself at the centre of a right-wing ruckus and protest when an educational activity intended to promote cultural sensitivity and break down communal barrier led to protests and subsequently found itself involved in a government investigation in Kalorex Future High School in Ahmedabad’s Ghatlodia after a video of the same went viral on social media. The issue erupted when a group of students were asked to participate in a brief demonstration of namaz, a Muslim prayer ritual followed by Muslims as part of their daily religious duties worldwide. The exercise was slated to be a part of a larger initiative aimed at sensitising students about various religious practices.
Members of several right-wing organisations, including the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Bajrang Dal descended outside the school and staged protests on the school premises. These groups vehemently protested against the activity and demanded that such incidents be prohibited within educational institutions. Several of these protestors even physically assaulted a teacher who was merely playing a musical instrument when the students were asked to practise prayers from different faiths, according to NDTV.
The incident occurred in Ghatlodia, a region situated within Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel’s Assembly constituency. Activists from Hindu right-wing groups swiftly mobilised, staging protests in response to the school’s actions. The protest escalated into this incident of violence which was captured on video.
The initial reaction from the school management was a swift apology followed by a clarification. The school principal Nirali Dagli went on to explain that the exercise was not meant to force students into performing religious practices but rather, it was thought of as a two-minute exercise to educate the children about the diversity of religious customs and traditions in India. “In view of Eid, we had organised this activity for the students of standard II to give them information about the festival. We carry out such activities ahead of festivals of all religions, including Samvatsari (Jain festival) and Ganesh Chaturthi. No student was forced to perform namaz. It was just a two-minute activity, and the students who participated had taken consent from their parents,” said School principal Nirali Dagli.
But despite these clarifications right wing groups protested against the school. Their actions were further supplemented by the government resolving to step in and the Minister of State for Primary, Secondary, and Education Praful Pansheriya stated, “It seems that some people want to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the state by organising such programmes in schools. Students who took part in that program may not even be aware of what exactly they were doing. This is not at all acceptable.” Pansheriya subsequently ordered an official investigation into the matter, suggesting that disciplinary actions might follow depending on the conclusion of the initial investigation.
The school management has thus far not refrained from lodging a formal complaint against the protesters and instead the school has proceeded to issue an apology along with an explanation that gives an assurance that such exercises would not be repeated in the future.
“…we wholeheartedly celebrate all Indian festivals including Ganeshotsav, Janmashtami, Navratri, Eid, Christmas, Navroz, Guru Purab, Paryushan, etc. and encourage our students to participate in them. During the school assembly on the occasion of Eid, one of our students depicted how namaz is performed while three other children stood by the depiction. The sole objective of the act was to educate children about the diverse customs of India. It was never our intention to hurt the sentiments of the followers of any religion,” the statement issued by the School management said.
How Mohit Yadav Killed himself – Part 2
1) Stopped bus to allow 2 passengers from #Gujarat to offer Namaz
2) He was removed from job for doing so and respecting all religion
3) He Killed himself by coming in front of running train
— INDIA Alliance (@2024_For_INDIA) August 29, 2023
A similar incident took place in a school in July 2023 in Mumbai, after a teacher played the Muslim call to prayer, Azaan, at a school assembly in order to teach students about diversity and tolerance. The teacher was similarly suspended and the authorities promised a robust investigation. Another similar incident of attempts at social harmony facing social censure is of where a bus conductor employed by the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) was noted to have committed suicide after he was terminated from his for reportedly pausing a bus to permit two Muslim passengers for performing Namaz. Similarly, a Catholic school in Madhya Pradesh also witnessed such protests for allegedly not prospecting a Hindu deity last week. The school’s principal was harassed by the mob to the point where the staff had to call the police for action. However, the mob only left once the police had promised action against the school.
In all three incidents, individuals have faced either loss of life, loss of employment, and injury to self as each of them tried to give attention and honour the diverse and pluralistic heritage of India. In all three cases, mob rule and outrage over social media which led to authorities and politicians siding with the mobs worsened the situation. These incidents further serve to show us that mob rule is increasingly becoming the norm, and in several cases, authorities prefer to or are even seemingly compelled to bow in to the demands of the mob, which bodes ill for the law and order situation of the country.