A Muslim boy has given the RSS in Assam a reason to rejoice again, a week after a BJP-led government came to power in the state for the first time.
Sarfaraz Hussain topped the state board’s Class 10 exam with 590 marks out of a maximum 600. The results were declared on Tuesday.
Others before him have had similar scores. But 16-year-old Sarfaraz is the first Muslim to pass from a school run by an affiliate of Vidya Bharati, the RSS’s education wing.
He is not the only Muslim student of Sankardev Sishu Niketan, one of the many schools run by the Vidya Bharati-affiliated Sishu Shiksha Samiti, Assam.
The school at Betkuchi on the outskirts of Guwahati has 24 Muslim students, most of whom – like Sarfaraz – have won prizes for reciting the Bhagwad Gita.
“They have never complained about what we teach because our emphasis is on academic excellence apart from giving the students a grip on Indian culture and values,” Akshaya Kalita, the school’s headmaster, told HT.
“We did not make them feel different, and as a rule, they have lunch with all the other students and teachers after a bhojan mantra (prayer before meal),” he said.
Ajmal Hussain, Sarfaraz’s father, said he let his son study in the school because it provided free education. “It would have otherwise been difficult to sustain his studies with my meagre income as a waiter in a small restaurant,” he said.
He credited his son’s success to his hard work, the support from his schoolteachers, and also to the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati. Sarfaraz was the secretary of the school’s Saraswati Puja celebrations.
“The school shaped my life, and I hope to achieve greater academic glory as my teachers expect,” Sarfaraz said, wishing he could repay his alma mater some day.
For now, the Sarbananda Sonowal government is taking care of the payback. Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma promised a road to the school that existed only on paper since it was established in 1998.
“We will also give the school Rs 10 lakh for upgrade and give Rs 5 lakh to Sarfaraz in a fixed deposit for his higher studies,” Sarma said.
State secondary board officials said of the 381,585 students that appeared for this year’s Class 10 exam, 239,614 passed to clock a 62.79% success rate. Sarfaraz was one of 44 candidates of Vidya Bharati-affiliated schools in the Top 20.