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Vadodara school calls off kindergarten field trip to mosque after Bajrang Dal threat

Bajrang Dal volunteers met with the school principal and “warned” of agitation if the field trip to the mosque was not called off. The school management said that it had not received any complaint or objection from any parent.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad, bajrang Dal, helpline, Nupur Sharma, death threatsA parent said, "the children were happy when they visited a temple, earlier, and similarly, they would have learned about another place of worship on this trip. It is so disheartening that some fringe groups are protesting over issues that should be between parents and the school only.” (Representational Image)

A private school in Vadodara, which had planned a field trip for kindergarten children to a mosque in the city, called off the visit after protests from Bajrang Dal on Tuesday. Volunteers of the Bajrang Dal, who claimed to have “received complaints” from parents, arrived at the school and threatened the school management with dire consequences if children were taken to the mosque.

The Delhi Public School in Kalali in Vadodara, which had earlier also taken children to visit a temple in the city, had planned to take the kindergarten children to a mosque as part of a field visit for value education this week. However, on Tuesday volunteers of the Bajrang Dal arrived on campus and staged a protest, chanting the Ram Dhun. Later, they met with the principal of the school and “warned” of agitation if the field trip to the mosque was not called off.

Ketan Trivedi, President of Bajrang Dal in Vadodara, said, “We have told the principal of the school that this field trip to the mosque should be called off…There is no need to mix religion with education. They can use virtual technology to show places of worship instead of taking young children to mosques. We have left it to the principal by telling him that he should consider that he would not want his school to earn a bad name in the name of religion… We have received complaints from parents and so we have come here. We will also return on the designated day when they were supposed to take the children out to the mosque and if we see that they have not complied, we will agitate as we are prepared for it.”

The school, last week, issued a consent form to parents, seeking voluntary permission to have their child visit a mosque in the city. The school said that all parents, who wished to send their wards on the field trip, had returned the form in agreement. The school management added that it did not receive any complaint or objection from any parent as it was the choice of the parents to send the children for the field trip or not. The school has also handed out a list of field visits planned for children during the academic year, in advance to all parents, which also includes a visit to a church among places of religious worship. The other field trips include a visit to a bank, a bakery, and a grocery store.

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A parent of a kindergarten student said, “Almost all parents we know in our groups had willingly signed consent forms… We were all looking forward to our children exploring and learning about the world. We do not see anything wrong in the school planning a visit to a place of worship, whichever it may be. The children were happy when they visited a temple, earlier, and similarly, they would have learned about another place of worship on this trip. It is so disheartening that some fringe groups are protesting over issues that should be between parents and the school only.”

Another parent of a student from kindergarten said, “My daughter was very excited for this trip and we were even telling her about a mosque as she has never been there before… It is only a field trip and as parents, we have chosen to support the school that is trying to teach children the values of harmony and unity. There was no pressure on parents to send children to any activity or field trip.”

When contacted, DPS Kalali Principal A K Sinha told this newspaper that he had met with volunteers of the protesting group and that the safety of students was the school’s top priority. Sinha said, “As of now, all field trips organised by the school in the month of August stand cancelled.”

First published on: 02-08-2022 at 06:25:16 pm
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