A principal of a government school in Karnataka was suspended on Wednesday, January 26 for allowing students to offer Namaz in the classroom. The incident took place at Bale Changappa Government Higher Primary School, located on Bengaluru-Chittoor highway, where the headmistress, Uma Devi gave permission to around twenty students to offer Namaz in the classroom every Friday.
According to reports, the school authorities granted permission to Muslim students to perform Friday prayers inside the classroom in the month of December last year. The issue, however, came to light when a video of the incident was shot on Friday, January 21 and uploaded on various social media sites on January 23.
After Namaz on roads,parks now Namaz in classroom in kolar Karnataka. Next what Bakra Eid in schools? pic.twitter.com/8tkuWQ5Wkm— ATUL (@atulahuja_) January 24, 2022
After the purported video went viral on social media, many members of various Hindu organisations protested against the authorities of the school for favouring children of a particular community.
Protesters said that since December of last year, Namaz had been permitted at the school. Ramakrishna, a local citizen told the media that the principal permitted the students without consulting any officials. “She has allowed students to pray inside the school on her own. This is not acceptable. We demand action be taken,” he said.
Speaking about the incident, one student had reportedly said, “We have been doing this since school reopened two months ago. Permission was given by the school headmistress.”
Following the protest, Umesh Kumar, the Kolar district collector, had ordered an investigation and sought a detailed report into the Mulbagal Someswara Palaya Bale Changappa Government Kannada Model Higher Primary School’s operations.
Minister Nagesh had also assured appropriate action against the school officials.“The incident in Kolar is too bad. No institution can allow such things. We have asked all concerned officers to visit the school at the earliest. Since the two days after the incident were weekends, a visit to the school was not possible. Now, they will visit the school and give a detailed report on what transpired there. We will take strict action based on the report,” said Nagesh.
Revana Siddappa, the Deputy Director of Public Instruction, had been tasked with visiting the school, conducting an investigation and filing a report on the same.
According to the investigation led by Deputy Director of Public Instruction (Kolar), Revana Siddappa, the principal initially stated that she did not allow students to offer prayers at school. “I don’t know anything about this. I haven’t done it. The students did it themselves. I was not here when this happened. The block education officer called and said this was happening at school and I rushed,” principal Uma Devi had reportedly stated.
Later, however, she justified her actions by claiming that she had authorised the students to offer namaz in the classroom to keep them from going outside for prayers. She also said that she had done so keeping the safety of the students in mind as they had to cross the national road to go to the mosque and also because many of them did not return to school for the afternoon sessions thus missing the in-class lessons.
However, she has been placed under suspension for the time being.
Gurgaon Namaz row
It may be recalled how Gurgaon, Haryana, had been embroiled in a huge controversy over the offering of Namaz at these public places in various sectors for the past few months. For weeks, locals had pushed back against Muslims who have resorted to communal praying in public locations rather than designated places of worship for weeks.
After prolonged protests, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar had categorically stated on December 10 that Namaz in open spaces will not be tolerated in his state.
He stated that members of all faiths should offer prayers in their own personal space or areas designated for worship. Namaz should be read in Mosques or Idgahs rather than public spaces. The trespassing on public spaces in the city under the guise of conducting religious prayer would not be allowed by the state administration henceforth.