Following the festival of Bakrid a private school has sparked controversy in Gujarat’s Kutch district. The school organised an event where Hindu students were seen offering Namaz on Bakrid. The incident came to light after a video of the said event went viral on social media.
Amidst rising outrage, the Pearl School in Mundra deleted copy of the video from their Facebook handle and the principal was also suspended with immediate effect.
The viral video shows Hindu students were asked to offer Namaz after wearing skull caps in the school event. Some of the students have put handkerchiefs on their hands and they are seen exchanging greetings, while one of them is telling about the festival from the back.
Pearl School is a co-education school run by ‘Vishwas Education Trust,’ a charitable organisation having its office in Adipur in Gandhidham taluka of Kutch. The school offers primary and secondary education. As per its website, Pearl School is affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Abu Sahban Abbasi is the owner of the school.
Priti Vaghwani, the school principal, claimed that the namaz session held on June 28 was a part of the school’s activities. She also issued an apology if the sentiments of anyone were hurt.
“On June 28, Wednesday, we organised an Eid-related activity. That has hurt the feelings of some parents and organisations. It was not our intention at all to hurt or harm anyone. We had done it merely for the festival. Nonetheless, if anyone has been inconvenienced or their feelings have been hurt, I apologise for that and say sorry and assure you that from now on, no activity or competition shall be organised to hurt the feelings of any organisation or parents,” Vaswani said in her statement.
The viral video was shared on Facebook with the caption, special assembly on account of Eid-ul-Adha. A skit presentation by 5A students.
Notably, The District Primary Education Officer (DPEO) in Gujarat’s Bhuj has launched an investigation into the incident. He said, if found guilty, the school could face severe consequences, including approval cancellation.
DPEO Sanjay Parmar told The Indian Express that it was a “heen krutya (lowly act)” to “ask Hindu students to wear skullcaps worn by Muslims”.
“As per the information we received about the video, there is a primary school called Pearl School in Mundra taluka. We have come to know about the video of the celebration of Eid in the school. I brought this to the notice of the District Primary Education Officer (DPEO), who is also in-charge district education officer,” he said.
“In turn, he immediately sent the team of taluka education officers. So, we will get a detailed report. Besides that, we also immediately contacted the person who runs the school and gave instructions to suspend the principal of that school forthwith,” SK Prajapati, District Development Officer (DDO) of Kutch, said.
On June 30 Parmar said, “After we came to know about the purported video at around 11 am on June 30, we asked Mr Abbasi, the owner of the school, to suspend the principal. Accordingly, the Trust has suspended Priti Vaswani and has reported the same to us,” the DPEO said.
When asked if the school had violated any specific rule in this regard, the DPEO said, “The school has Muslims and Hindu students. But if the school asks Hindu students to put on skullcaps worn by Muslims, it’s a heen krutya (lowly act).”
The officer, however, added his office had not received any complaints from students of the school or their parents till June 30 evening in this regard.
However, local legislator Aniruddh Dave expressed concern over such activity, stating that while activities like swimming, horse riding, or musical performances could be included, namaz should not be part of the school curriculum.
AIMIM chief, Asaduddin Owaisi also jumped into the matter, sharing the post of Indian Express, Owisi wrote on Twitter, “@PMOIndia doesn’t wears it as it is a Lowly Act (Heen Krutya) maybe another reason for a Hindutva UCC ?”
In another incident, a school in North Gujarat, Kids Kingdom School on Radhanpur Road in Mahesana, faced protests from locals, parents, and Hindu organisations for ordering Hindu children to participate in Bakrid celebrations.