After receiving a complaint, officials of the Mansa district education department visited a school, Sarvahitkari Vidya Mandir, in Dulowal village and found it to be open on Ambedkar Jayanti on Friday. This, among other violations, is part of a report sent to higher officials for action against the school, which, according to its principal, “comes under the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh)”.
The officials also found some books with literature “glorifying a particular religion” that were mandatory course material for students. “Some literature material has been seized from the school premises and we have also taken notice of the fact that despite being affiliated with the Punjab School Education Board, this school remained open on a national holiday. It was also found that in violation of laws, the school has been issuing books from private publishers,” said deputy district education officer Jagroop Singh.
“The principal could not give satisfactory response to our queries and we had to shut the school for the day,” said Jagroop.
Asked what kind of literature was seized from the school premises, Jagroop said that prima facie the literature material suggested glorifying a particular religion “which is not according to our education board guidelines”.
When contacted, principal Sanjeev Singla contended that the literature they teach is “based on religious history” and doesn’t glorify a particular religion. “We had announced a holiday on Baisakhi, on April 13, and could not do the same on Friday,” he said.
However, when asked whether permission was sought from the PSEB before teaching the literature, he said he has to follow some “guidelines” of the parent organisation or the society running the school. “RSS is not directly connected with the school but we do come under them,” said the principal. This was later confirmed by the deputy DEO Jagroop too.
The school functions under by Sarvahitkari Educational Society, which is affiliated to RSS wing Vidya Bharati. Suraj Chhabra, state executive member of RSS’ political affiliate BJP, said: “RSS is an umbrella body and groups like VHP, Bharat Mazdoor Sangh and Sarvahitkari Educational Society are all under RSS. Sarvahitkari Educational Society has many schools in Punjab.”