– Anwarulhaq Baig
October 6, 2023: In a shocking incident, members of Hindu right-wing groups forcibly entered a private school in Ahmedabad and physically assaulted a teacher following an event aimed at demonstrating how to offer the Muslim prayer, Namaz, to students.
A video of the incident went viral, depicting the teacher being beaten by protesting right-wing activists, including members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), in the presence of police personnel. Subsequently, music teacher Maulik Pathak was safely evacuated from the scene by colleagues and the police.
According to the management of Kalorex Future School in Ghatlodia, Ahmedabad, during an event on September 29, a Muslim student performed Namaz, and later four other students joined in to wish ‘Happy Eid’. This 2-minute demonstration was part of mock presentations aimed at educating students about their forms of prayers and festivals.
Instead of filing a police complaint against the assailants, the school issued an apology letter to the protesting groups.
Later, the District Education Office has issued a show-cause notice to the school while the Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry into the ‘Namaz’ event.
Protesting right wing groups were alleging that Hindu students were forced to offer Namaz.
Rejecting their allegations, the school’s principal, Ms. Niraliben Dagli, clarified that the student who performed Namaz is Muslim, while the other four who later joined to wish everyone a Happy Eid are Hindus. She explained that no student was compelled to participate in the Namaz demo, and parents of all the participating students had given their consent for the event.
According to a statement issued by the management, the School actively celebrates all Indian festivals, including Ganeshotsav, Janmashtami, Navratri, Eid, Christmas, Navroz, Guru Purab, Paryushan, and more. While tendering apology, the statement emphasized that the sole objective of the activity was to educate children about the diverse customs of India and was never intended to hurt the sentiments of any religious group.
The video, in which the same music teacher, Pathak, who was safely evacuated by colleagues and the police, was seen playing the piano, was later removed from the school’s Facebook page.
Gujarat’s Minister of State for Primary, Secondary, and Higher Education, Praful Pansheriya, expressed his concern over Namaz event, and said, “It seems that some people want to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the state by organizing such programs in schools. Students who took part in that programme may not even be aware of what exactly they were doing. This is not at all acceptable.”