All Zilla Parishad, municipal, aided, non-aided and private schools in the state have been asked to refrain from including students in political and controversial programmes, as per an order by School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad in a circular on January 11.
Schools have been warned to refrain from not just organising such events, but have also been asked to take immediate action against those hosting such programmes.
On January 10, the Shree Dayanand Balak, Balika Vidyalaya and Junior College, which is run by the Arya Samaj and is located in Matunga, had organised an hour-long programme where local BJP leaders interacted with students to “spread awareness” and “correct misinformation” about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) amid widespread protests across the country against its implementation. Mumbai BJP’s Uttar Bhartiya Morcha’s Mahamantri Sumita Suman Singh, who had organised the interaction, is also a trustee of the school.
Gaikwad told The Indian Express, “The case is being handled by police… the school says they didn’t know that such an event was being organised. The school platform is to be used for issues such as health, hygiene or academic topics such as the upcoming Class X exams. There are dedicated spaces in the city to protest and schools should not be made a part of this.”
Meanwhile, the BJP has objected to the notice issued by the state Education Department against Dayanand School for organising the programme. BJP Vice-President Kirit Somaiya on Monday threatened to file a police complaint against the notice.
“If citizens, private/social organisations or educational institutions arrange any educational, informational awareness programme, why should anybody object?” said Somaiya, adding, “I will file a police complaint against such a notice Tuesday.” He said the complaint letter has already been sent to the Education department.
“… The CAA was passed in Parliament. It received the consent of the President of India. Therefore, there was no reason to raise objections if some students participated in the awareness programme convened by a city school,” said a BJP leader.
A former BJP minister alleged that the coalition government of Congress, NCP and Sena appeared to be “acting with malice” on the issue. “The BJP has launched a campaign across the country, including Maharashtra, in support of CAA. It has appealed to one and all. The party is not forcing any institution to take up the campaign.”
If a school or any organisation suo motu holds a programme in favour of the CAA, why should the Education department serve them notice, asked the leader.
However, the former minister refused to comment when asked why political issues were being promoted in schools.