iconimg Tuesday, July 07, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Thiruvananthapuram, August 15, 2014
A private school in south Kerala removed Vande Mataram from Independence Day programme after a religious outfit allegedly threatened its management saying some of the words in the song were against the religious belief of a section of the community. The school also dropped the namaste gesture from a dance number performed during Independence Day celebrations, inviting sharp criticism from various quarters.

Initially TKM Centenary School in Kollam, 65km south of Thiruvananthpuram, had planned a dance fusion with Vande Mataram playing in the background. But it was replaced with an orchestra after workers of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) threatened to disrupt the programme.

The national song was dropped after several rounds of rehearsals.

When the issue snowballed into a raging controversy, school management denied any external pressure.

"Since there were even three-year-old children, we made some changes in the dance programme to ensure they are not stressed. It has nothing to do with external pressure," said administrator of the school, K Abdul Majeed. However he did not elaborate how 'Vande Mataram' and 'namaste' put some pressure on children.

Various student outfits later took out protest marches to the school seeking strict action against the management and the principal.

However, the SDPI justified the changes in the programme.

"We approached the school management after a number of parents complained that some words in Vande Matraam and the gesture namaste were against their religious belief. We only requested the school to respect their sentiment," said SDPI leader AK Salahuddin.

Police said they received a complaint and started an investigation in this regard.

School principal Latha Alexander was unavailable for comments.