The Damoh school controversy, where Hindu students were compelled to wear a Hijab, sit in postures like offering namaz and recite Islamic prayers became a national issue this year. A similar incident was reported from Madhya Pradesh’s Guna, on the occasion of Eid Milad-un-Nabi (September 27). At a private school, Hindu students were seen wearing Hijab, singing Islamic songs and preaching lessons and sayings in Islam. The video of the said performances went viral in the town and then the local Hindu activists assembled at the school. As of now, no action has been taken in this case.
As per the sources, the students at Prince Global Private School, located in the Cantt area of the town organised a cultural event celebrating Eid. The event was organised a day before Eid (September 27).
Videos went viral from the event showing, that Hindu students are in different Muslim attires such as little girls wearing hijabs, others wearing green dupattas and some singing Islamic songs. After the video of the incident went viral, the local Hindu activists called for a widespread protest demanding action against the school administration. (Two videos from the event can be seen here and here)
Following the massive outrage, the school administration apologised to the activists and also suspended the principal and the teacher who managed the cultural event with immediate effect.
As per the reports, a cultural program was organised in this school on Wednesday (September 27), a day before Eid Milad-un-nabi. In this, students gave cultural presentations. A video of a presentation from this cultural program surfaced on Thursday (September 28). In this video, some female students are seen wearing hijabs. Every student was also wearing a hijab. During the presentation, the female students were also seen in poses like offering Namaz.
There was an uproar as soon as the video of this cultural program surfaced. Hindu organisations lodged objections. On September 29, a large number of people from Hindu organisations reached the school. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) workers also reached the spot. The families of the children also reached the school, where they raised slogans. The activists said that a particular religion is being propagated in the temple of education (school). However, the directors of this school come from the Hindu religion. Despite this, such a program took place there.
As soon as the information was received, Tehsildar and Cantt TI also reached the spot. Hardly the uproar subsided. Naib Tehsildar Gaurishankar Bairwa said that the school management has removed the school principal. Besides, the teacher who organised the cultural program has also been removed from the school. The situation is under control, as of now.
Organiser called Keshav Sharma, the head of Hindu Jagran Manch, Guna who lives next to the school on September 29. He said the parents are not willing to lodge an FIR (First Information Report) in this matter. The activists reached the school and protested, following which the teacher and the principal of the school were suspended.
He added, that the school opened almost five years ago charges a hefty sum of money from the students in the name of English medium. The Director of the school is a Hindu (Raguvanshi, he pronounced the caste) whereas the principal was a Christian. He added, that out of 18-19 teachers in the school, around 8 of them belong to the Muslim community.
Sharma said, “This is called passive grooming, these students are slowly moving towards Islam. What is the need to organise such a cultural event at a school that has maximum Hindu students? Ganesh Chaturthi just concluded but no event was organised to celebrate this. The school organises such an event every year, it is just that someone has managed to record it this time”.
Damoh Hijab Row
On May 31, 2023, a poster from a private school named ‘Ganga Jamna Higher Secondary School’ went viral on social media from the Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh. The controversial fact about the poster was that Hindu and Jain girls were wearing hijabs. This poster and some videos unearthed by Organiser led to massive outrage, which caught the attention of the state’s Home Minister as well as the Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Subsequently, the registration of the school was suspended, followed by the NCPCR’s visit to the campus. Additionally, an FIR was lodged against the principal, a teacher, and a peon of the school.
On August 23, the Madhya Pradesh High Court, upheld the ban on hijab as a dress code in the school while granting bail to the accused. The court also ruled that the school administration cannot force any student to recite Islamic prayer or read Islamic texts.
The matter came to light after the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Priyank Kanoongo, took cognizance of the matter and issued a notice (number– DD6270) demanding an action report from the district collector and the police.
Notably, the poster mounted outside the school featuring meritorious students had as many as 18 students out of these 18, three were male and the rest female. Among the 15 girls, four belonged to the Hindu and Jain communities. These students were wearing hijabs and hence the poster made it to the national headlines.
The same week Organiser found the YouTube channel of the school where students were chanting religious prayers like “Lab pe aai hai dua” in traditional Muslim attire. We also checked the Facebook account of the school, where the female students were seen wearing hijabs mandatorily, even during sports events. Those who do not sport Hijab were seen covering their heads with a dupatta.
Notably, the members of the Madhya Pradesh SCPCR made a visit to the school on June 2 and found that Islamic teachings were imparted to the students. These students recited “Surah-Al-Fatiha” as their morning prayers. The walls of the school had Islamic teachings inscribed on it, some of them reversed the laws of science.
After the visit, one of the members of the MP SCPCR, Megha Pawar spoke with Organiser, she said, that Ayats from Quran were written over the blackboard, students were asked to recite Islamic prayers, were forced to wear Hijab, and remove Kalwa and Tilak. Students having Hindu names had Hijab pictures in the school register. The Kindergarten students had books with questions like, Who are you–I am a Muslim, What is your religion–My religion is Islam, Where is Allah–Allah is everywhere and many such questions.
Chouhan took cognizance of the matter and said will never allow things like this in Madhya Pradesh ever. Amid rising controversy, the administrator of the school Haji Mohammad Idris, wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of the state Shivraj Singh Chouhan, stating the scarf was never mandatory as a school uniform it was always optional, however, from now onwards, the headscarf or Hijab will not be a part of the school uniform for any girl studying at the school.
Organiser did a ground report on this case and met the Hindu students studying in the school and their parents. The students shared how their Tilak and Kalawa were removed at the school gate. The female students had to wear Hijab compulsorily, they were asked to greet with “Assam Walikum”, the diary has Islamic prayers written in it. The students were taught Arabic and Urdu as compulsory subjects and more.
Notably, the NCPCR had taken the responsibility of relocating the students, as many as 1200 students studied in the school and out of these 350 were Hindus. Some of these students were relocated to government schools whereas some NGOs were also in play to shift the students to better private schools.
On August 23, the bench of Justice Dinesh Paliwal heard the bail plea of the accused, Afsa Sheikh, principal of the school. The court granted her bail but laid down certain conditions to run the school. The details can be found here.