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Akola: Student commits suicide after tortured by school staff for being Muslim

‘Tum Musalman Haramkhor ho,’ Musalmanoo key bachey hamarey school main nahi hona chahiye

 

– Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi, April 2: A story of a 15-year-old Muslim boy being harassed and humiliated to the point of suicide has surfaced in Akola, Maharashtra, reminding us of the “slapgate” incident in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, last year, in which a Muslim child was cruelly treated by the school principal due to his religious identity. To top it all, the Maharashtra police first refused to register a formal complaint. The event occurred on March 9, but the police filed a formal complaint after 14 days following intense public pressure.

According to the details, on March 9, Altamash Baig, a 9th-grade student from Guru Nanak Vidyalaya in the Sindhi Camp area of Akola, committed suicide at his home. Altamash’s father, Imran Baig, went to the police station to file an FIR, but his request was turned down by the local police. Following intense public pressure, the police relented and filed an FIR against five people, including Guru Nanak Vidyalaya’s principal, two teachers, and the parent of the girl, on March 22.

Recording the incident, the FIR stated that three school staff, including the principal and the parents of a female student, not only assaulted Altamash Baig but also insulted him for being a Muslim, and communal slurs hurled, telling the boy, “Tum Musalman Haramkhor hoa” (You Muslims are bastards), and Musalmano key bachey hamarey school main nahi hona chahiye” (We don’t want to have Muslim children in our school).

In the FIR, Imran Baig further claimed, “I got a call from the father of Akshara Shirurkar, a girl enrolled in the same school’s 7th standard, saying, ‘Come to school; your boy has molested our girl and even teased her’. The principal informed me that your kid had made improper gestures toward the girl when I arrived at the school. My boy told me at the time that these five had battered and threatened him, calling them ‘Muslim bastards’. You will be dismissed from the school. Muslim students have no place in our school. You’re going to fail. They’ll file a police report on you.”

“My son was terrified and scared by this,” Imran Baig responded, “No, he didn’t give me any hint,” when asked if Altamash Baig had given you a tip. At that point, the principal threatened to ruin the boy’s future.”

The attorney, Najeeb Sheikh, informed Radiance that in the Altamash suicide case, there was an effort to conceal the facts and shield the accused by political pressure and influence, which prevented the police from filing a formal complaint. He said several sections of IPC 305, 504, 506, and 294 – including hurting religious feelings – were included in the FIR. He said the alleged eve-teasing case was fabricated, and there was solid evidence that the boy was terrified of the school staff. Najeeb Shaikh said that without calling the parent, the school staff stopped the boy in the school, which amounts to kidnapping and wrongful confinement. We have demanded to add various sections of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) to the FIR No. 0279/2024, he said.

Najeeb Shaikh further said that as soon as the FIR was filed, all the suspects vanished. We want to petition the Education Department to revoke Guru Nanak Vidyalaya’s approval and force its closure. The administration of this school wants Muslim students to avoid attending because they are removing Muslim students from the building, using prearranged strategies and excuses.

Earlier, a group from the same school discovered that the Muslim students in the fifth grade had been expelled and asked to attend a different school. On August 8, 2022, a formal complaint was also submitted to the Education Department in this regard. The school, a semi-English medium, is run by the minority Sindhi community and is a grant-in-aid school.

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