The headmaster of a government school in Karnataka’s Gadag district was allegedly heckled by activists of Sri Rama Sene, a Right-wing outfit, Tuesday after he asked the students to write an essay on Prophet Muhammed. The activists also accused the headmaster of facilitating religious conversion of the students.
The incident took place in the Government High School in Nagavi village. The activists barged into the school and heckled headmaster Abdul Munafar Bijapur, leaving the rest of the people in the school of 172 students “in a state of shock”.
According to Abdul, a week ago someone known came to him and offered to sponsor money for an essay competition. “In order to improve handwriting among students, we organised an essay competition based on the book named nalleged that I was promoting Islam which is incorrect.”
He added, “Every month there are at least one or two events held where we conduct competitions. We have held programmes and essay competitions on Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa and other personalities too in the past. These essay competitions are held to introduce the students to these personalities and to help them improve their handwriting.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Raju Khanappanavar of Sri Rama Sene said they had gone to question the headmaster as the essay competition was only on Prophet Mohammed. “The headmaster claims that some person came to the school and offered Rs 5,000 for the winner and he agreed to allow. As a teacher, he should not allow promotion of any one religion. He is in a way putting other communities in bad light by promoting Islam among young minds,” he said.
The deputy director of public instruction, Gadag, GM Basavalingappa said that he has ordered an inquiry into the incident. He added that he is writing letters to senior officials about the incident. “There were no government circulars to conduct such competitions and he had handed over books to students to take to their homes. Around 43 students took part in the competition. The headmaster defended stating that they celebrated Valmiki Jayanti, Kanaka Jayanti and other events too. However, there were government orders to conduct them but in this case, there was no such direction,” he said.
Bijapur, who has 28 years of experience in teaching, has been working in this school for the last three years. He said, “We have maintained all the records of holding programmes related to Hindu personalities and others. There are seven teachers who work with me and fortunately they came to my rescue.”