Muslims in Erumeli village in Kerala are outraged over a local high school run by Catholic management serving pork during Ramzan.
On Friday, a day after the school served pork curry, several Muslims stormed St Thomas Higher Secondary School in Kottayam district. The mob blocked the road for three hours, damaged school furniture and assaulted two teachers.
Tension mounted as people from other regions rushed to the school, but the mob dispersed after the education department suspended headmaster Thomas Varghese and teacher Rajeev Joseph, who served the dish. Joseph has also been taken into police custody. The local Jamaat Council has called for a protest meeting on July 30.
The pork curry was prepared for a party held in the school for about 60 staffers, most of whom are Catholic.
Around the same time, 91 students belonging to the National Cadet Corps (NCC) were training for a parade.
“Since food was left over after the teachers’ party, staff member Rajeev Joseph, in charge of the NCC, called the students to finish it. He announced there was pork curry on the menu and Muslims students should not consume it. For those who did not eat pork, there was fish curry and pickle,” he said.
The school NCC has 67 boys and 33 girls. Nine were absent on Thursday. Of the 100, 27 are Muslims. Of the 1,003 students in the school, 40 per cent are Muslims.
On Thursday night, a Muslim student reportedly told his parents pork was served in the school. The parents took up the matter with the local Jamaat Council the next day, following which protests broke out.
Council secretary P A Irshad said all Muslim outfits are united on the issue. “The school management should not have selected the month of Ramzan to serve pork. Our religious sentiments are hurt,” he said.
Deputy director of education (Kottayam district) Jessy Joseph said suspending the teacher and the headmaster was the only way to pacify the mob. “It would have been better for teachers to dispose the pork curry instead of giving it to students,” Jessy Joseph said.