Suspended for allegedly stopping students from chanting Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai, Rajasthan schoolteacher Nisaar Mohammad says he was framed.
“I have been working at this school for 13 years. Why would I do something like that after all these years, when I’m three years from retirement,” Nisaar, 56, told The Indian Express from Jhalawar.
The principal of the government secondary school at Budhwara, Jhalawar, and the district administration say the allegations against Nisaar are true. The principal and another colleague, however, felt it was uncharacteristic of Nisaar to have done what he is accused of.
Nisaar, the physical training instructor, was suspended Saturday and asked to report to district headquarters Monday. The previous day, in a memorandum to the district administration, villagers and some teachers had complained that Nisaar had stopped children from chanting patriotic slogans during Friday’s morning assembly.
Nisaar says he is in fact a singer specialising in patriotic songs. “Preparing students for Independence Day and Republic Day parades is part of my job. I teach them patriotism and to participate in these programmes every year,” he said.
“I have no idea how it happened. I conducted the morning assembly on Friday and went home at 3:30. The next morning, when I went to the school, a large crowd had gathered there accusing me of all these things. I felt threatened and intimidated, so the school in-charge sent me on casual leave,” he added.
“All I had asked students that morning was to greet me with respect, like they did with their teachers, and the next morning this happens. Someone, I don’t know who, has framed me,” he said. He said he had apologised to villagers “in case I had hurt them in any way”.
The district administration visited the school the next day. “We went, along with the police, to investigate the matter. Several teachers and parents were complaining about this issue. On investigation, we found the allegations to be true,” said assistant collector Gaurav Agrawal, who received the villagers’ memorandum. “But still, it’s a matter of a proper departmental inquiry.”
The education department has ordered an internal probe.
The principal, Ram Kalyan, too endorsed the allegation while adding that Nisaar’s exhortation had taken him by surprise. “Unhone bachchon ko kaha Vande Mataram kehne se urja nasht hoti hai (he told the children chanting saps one’s energy),” Kalyan said. “Nissar Mohammad has never done it before; I don’t know what came upon him that morning. The children went home and reported the incident their parents who approached us the next morning. Children don’t lie.”
Nisaar’s colleague Kapil Gangwal said he had left the assembly briefly when the alleged incident happened. “It is not like him to say this. But I wasn’t there then,” he said.