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Telangana: Missionary school refuses entry to students observing Hanuman Deeksha for their saffron dress, protesting religious group vandalises the school, case filed against both sides

The parents alleged that while the school allows religious prayer of one community, they were not allowing religious costumes for students observing the 21-day Hanuman Deeksha.

Tension erupted in a Christian missionary school in Telangana after the administration objected to students wearing religious attire, leading to vandalism of the school. The incident took place in Mother Teresa School of Luxettipet in Kannepalli village in the Mancherial district on 16th April, after some students arrived wearing ‘Hanuman Deeksha dress’.

The students, who were dressed in saffron-coloured religious attire were reportedly informed that their parents needed to obtain permission in advance if they wanted to attend school without wearing uniforms. The principal of the school didn’t allow the students to enter their classes, and made them stand outside until they brought their parents to the school.

After the students informed their parents about the same, members of a religious group arrived outside the school and started protesting. They demanded action against the school management for not allowing the students to enter the school and appear for their annual examinations because of their dress. Later, some protestors barged into the school and vandalised some windows as well as manhandled the staff, including the headmaster. After the violence intensified, police reached the spot to control the situation and were seen removing the protesters who were demanding an apology from the school staff.

The school management has lodged a complaint against the protestors over the vandalism. In the meanwhile, the parents also have registered a complaint against the school for not allowing their children to enter their classroom. The case was registered under sections 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race) and 295(A) (insulting religious feelings).

The parents said that the students were wearing religious attire as part of a 21-day special religious observance. The parents also alleged that while the school allows religious prayer of one community, they were not allowing religious costumes for students observing Hanuman Deeksha.

Talking about the incident, Mancherial Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ashok Kumar stated, “The exams were going on. After the exam, the principal told the students to come in uniform and that if they wanted to wear saffron clothes, they had to get permission. That triggered the parents. Previously also there were some complaints against the principal and it was there in the parents’ mind. It was a Tuesday and there was a temple nearby and all this escalated and led to vandalism.”

The youngsters were performing a 21-day penance known as “Hanuman Deeksha,” according to the police. Dandepally police have filed two First Information Reports (FIRs) in response to allegations from the school management and parents of the children. The police are watching the videos in order to identify the culprits.

One of the student’s parents reported to the police that his son and two of his classmates in Class 4 were turned away from school because they were dressed in “Hanuman Mala Deeksha.” He asserted that the principal and correspondent of the school purposefully offended their religious feelings, inciting animosity and disrupting religious harmony in public. Parents further charged that prayers of one community are allowed but Hanuman Deeksha during which people wear Mala (scared string of beads) and saffron outfits are not permitted.

In their complaint, the school administration accused several people, including four suspects of breaking into the premises, preparing to forcibly detain the school correspondent, assaulting him physically and breaking classroom windows. They claimed a loss of property valued at Rs 30,000 and stated that gates and a statue of Mother Teresa had been destroyed.

Students were permitted to take the exam on 15th April, based on the school’s correspondent, Father Jaimon Joseph, a member of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS) which oversees the institution. He claimed, “It was a miscommunication and false news was spread on social media leading to over 500 people reaching the school on Tuesday morning. The attack on the school continued for nearly four hours and we suspect it was pre-planned.”

“The principal told students on Monday afternoon that they have to get permission to arrive in saffron clothes. Had their parents even telephoned us, we would have granted the permission. On Tuesday morning, one of the students still came in saffron clothes and we did not stop the student. By then, a huge mob came to school and attacked us,” he added.

In the two cases filed in relation to the incident, Sections 153a (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) have been invoked against the school management. On the other hand, IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 427 (mischief causing damage), 452 (trespassing into a house with the intent to do harm), 506 (criminal intimidation), 143 (unlawful assembly) and 149 (common object) have been used against the vandals.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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