West Bengal: Students reportedly asked communally sensitive question in Arabic class, Hindu parents protest

In a bizarre incident, a state-sponsored school in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district has been accused of creating a tense situation in the area, after it conducted a test which had certain communally sensitive questions, reported Hindustan Times.

The Polerhat High School had conducted an Arabic language test for its class 8 students on August 9. The students were appearing for a 30-minute third language test, in which communally sensitive questions were asked. One of the questions asked, “What provokes an evil person?” with the options being “idol worship” and “namaz”.

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This incident has caused tension in the area after some Hindu groups objected to the nature of the questions being asked in the tests. The aggrieved group took up the issue with the school authorities. The local police went on to be on high alert to avoid any communal tension in the area.

It is reported that the students who appeared for the tests were all Muslims and the Hindu community alleges that the choice of answers the students choose will result in disrespecting the Hindus.

The news was soon spread and parents of Hindu students had gathered at the school demanding the school authorities to clarify on the matter. The school curriculum uses Bengali script to teach the Arabic language up to class 12, which makes it easy to read a question paper. The questions were reportedly set by the school’s Arabic teacher Mohabubar Rehman, who is an Arabic language graduate from Calcutta University.

The school authorities have reportedly stated that Rehman has been officially warned for his actions. One Baburam Das, who is the in-charge of the school has reportedly stated that Rehman has apologised and promised not to repeat such mistakes. Rehman, however, has reportedly stated that he is overworked and he made a mistake under work-stress.

The area has a large Muslim population and though Sanskrit is another option prescribed by the West Bengal Board as the third language, only one girls’ school in the area reportedly has the subject and most other schools are teaching Arabic.

The Hindu Jagran Manch has reportedly alleged that the question was intentionally set and not a mistake. It was asked in such a way that both the options were communally hurtful. Swarup Dutta, a karyakarta, has stated that there has been a huge increase in Muslim population in the area in recent past. He also reportedly added that both the North and South 24 Pargana districts have pockets where Muslims are the majority community and there have been numerous instances of communal violence.

Though the police visited the school on August 17, no action was taken since no FIR was registered.

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