Hindutva men storm school premises to stop Namaz in Karnataka

New Delhi, January 25 (KMS):  In yet another case of Hindutva highhandedness in Indian state of Karnataka, a group of men barged into a school premises and stopped Muslim students from offering namaz (prayer) inside the premises. A video of the incident is in circulation on the social media.

The incident is said to have occurred on Friday, at Mulbagal Someshwara Palaya Bale Changappa Government Kannada Model Higher Primary School and came into the limelight on Monday. Since then, reports said, the district magistrate ordered an inquiry into the matter despite the fact that no formal complaint has been made.

The school administration under pressure from Hindutva groups has decided to disallow namaz in the premises.

The video shows the men belonging to a local Hindutva groups breaking into the school and creating ruckus inside. They can be seen arguing with police personnel present on the scene.

The row over namaz comes at a time when a group of Muslim students at a government college in Udupi Karnataka are protesting against ban on hijab or head scarf inside classrooms. The issue has made headlines as the students remained defiant claiming that they are demanding their legal right to be allowed to wear hijab in classrooms.

According to local activists, the Muslim students were granted permission by the headmistress, Uma Devi, to hold namaz in the school in December last year to discourage them from leaving the premises for namaz in a nearby mosque.

Naseer Ahmad, who spoke to media said the row over namaz started after a Hindutva supporter clicked a photo of Muslim students offering namaz inside a classroom and put it on the social media “with the intension to rake up controversy”.

Naseer said the Hindu group had warned the headmistress Devi to stop namaz, otherwise they would get her removed from the job. However, a video surfaced showing Devi claiming ignorance about permission adding she would not allow namaz in the school.

Speaking to media, Devi vehemently denied any knowledge about granting permission for namaz. When it was pointed out to her that she had admitted to the Block Education Officer (BEO) Girijeshwari Devi that she had given permission, the headmistress said: “Nobody gave permission. I only told them not to leave the school premises. It was not connected to the matter. We didn’t know about it. The students were offering namaz on their own”.

She also dismissed the claims that she was being forced by Hindutva groups to stop Muslim students from holding namaz. “I’m not under any pressure from the Hindu group that has brought up this issue,” Devi claimed.

Currently, Muslims make up more than half of the 375 students enrolled in the school. Interestingly, the locals said the school was established on land donated by Muslims as a gift for school education.

Syed Qamar alias Ateeq Pasha, who heads the school development committee played down the issue saying the “situation is normal and the issue will be resolved soon”.

“Some people are saying the school should only be for education. We will sit together and resolve the issue amicably. No one should feel discriminated against on the basis of religion,” he said, adding that the school is a place for people of all faiths.

Local members of the Social Democratic Party of India, a political party that mostly draws support from Muslims, have urged the authorities and school administration to allow Muslim students to hold namaz.

Zamer Pasha , the district secretary of Campus Front of India,  said that the Muslim students holding namaz inside the school should not be a problem as activities of other faiths also take place. “These Hindu groups with RSS connections are bringing up these issues because they want to create fissures among the communities which have been living together peacefully all the time,” Pasha said.

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