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Headmistress suspended for allowing students to offer namaz in school

By, Bengaluru
Jan 29, 2022 12:59 AM IST

Following the incident deputy director of public instruction (DDPI) and local officials visited the school and submitted a detailed report to the deputy commissioner of the district.

The education department in Karnataka has suspended the headmistress of Balechangappa government higher primary school in Kolar district, around 65 km from Bengaluru, for allowing Muslim students to offer namaz inside the school premises.

Education officials said the action was taken as there was no provision to offer any kind of religious prayers inside government schools. (Representational picture)

Education officials said the action was taken as there was no provision to offer any kind of religious prayers inside government schools.

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The action against headmistress Uma Devi comes after a group of rightwing activists barged into a school in Mulbagal town on January 21 and created ruckus over allowing Muslim students to offer namaz on the school premises.

Protests began after a video of students offering prayers at the school began doing rounds on the social media on Sunday. The video was allegedly shot on a mobile phone on Friday. Alleging that the decision was to allow prayers inside the school was “biased and promoted religion” in the school, rightwing activists barged into the school on the same day.

The protesters alleged that the prayers have been allowed in the school since December last year. A local resident and a member of a right-wing group, Ramakrishna, told the media that the headmistress has given permission for students to hold prayers in the school without consulting any officials.

Following the incident deputy director of public instruction (DDPI) and local officials visited the school and submitted a detailed report to the deputy commissioner of the district. Based on the report, block education officer (BEO) D Girijeshwari Devi ordered suspension of the headmistress.

Headmistress Uma Devi earlier told the media that she was not aware that a prayer meeting was happening in the school. She, however, later clarified that the facility to perform namaz in a room of the school was provided with intention of attracting more Muslim students to join the school.

The BEO said the headmistress made a mistake by allowing the students to offer namaz inside the school. She said Muslim students were allowed to go outside the school to offer namaz but allowing the same inside the school was against the rules.

“There is no permission to conduct prayers on the school campus and there is no provision to offer any kind of religious prayers in government schools,” said Girijeshwari Devi.

The BEO said there were around 165 students from the Muslim community in the school and the total strength of the school was 375. “There is a mosque right next to the school, there is no issue in them going there for prayers,” she said.

Karnataka education minister BC Nagesh said action will be taken against the school officials. “The incident in Kolar is too bad. No institution can allow such things. We have asked all concerned officers to visit the school at the earliest. Since the two days after the incident were weekends, a visit to the school was not possible. Now, they will visit the school and give a detailed report on what transpired there. We will take strict action based on the report,” said Nagesh.

The action against the headmistress comes days as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) pulled up for the state government for not allowing 8 students in Udupi’s Women’s Government Pre-University College from attending classes wearing hijab.

The NHRC on Wednesday sought a report from the Karnataka government on the issue within a month. In the notice, the commission said Udupi incidents were a “grave violation” of the human rights of the students.

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