Private school’s license revoked over Hijab controversy in Madhya Pradesh

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The government in Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has revoked a private school’s license in Damoh following allegations that female students were forced to wear hijab.

The Ganga Jamuna Higher Secondary School came under the spotlight when last week it posted on its wall a poster to congratulate its board exam toppers. The poster carried images of hijab-clad girls.

On May 31, the Madhya Pradesh government ordered a probe after the controversy erupted, media reports said.

Various rightwing Hindutva outfits including the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) demanded de-recognition of the school, alleging that the school forced non-Muslim girls also to wear the hjab.

Interestingly, no family member of the girl students of the school in Damoh lodged any complaint.

Following the controversy in the Damoh school, the Damoh District Collector Mayank Agrawal constituted a high-powered committee to probe the allegations leveled against the school.

As a result, the district education department struck off the registration of the school that had 1,208 students but did not mention hijab as the reason for the suspension of its registration.

“Ganga Jamuna School in Damoh has been found not complying with the norms set by the state education department, and therefore a decision has been taken to derecognize its registration with immediate effect,” read the notification.

MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told an event in Chhatarpur district that a school forcing female students to wear a head scarf will not be allowed to function in the state.

“I am told that girls in Damoh were told to wear a scarf and then come to school. They were also teaching the poetry of a man who talked about the division of the country. I want to warn you that in Madhya Pradesh such things (institutions) will not be allowed to operate. The education policy that has been enacted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will only be followed and if someone teaches something wrong, or if any daughter is forced to wear a scarf, then such a school will not be allowed to function in Madhya Pradesh,” media reports quoted Chouhan as saying.

There were also allegations that students were made to sing Allama Iqbal’s prayer song “Lub pay aati hai.”

The poem is a common prayer song in Indian schools and carries the word “Allah” in it, and translates to “O Lord, protect me from evil, guide me to the path that leads to the good.”

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