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Vande Mataram in civic schools: Decision is divisive, say Pune parents of students in Urdu academies

PMC should instead focus on improving basic facilities in civic schools, says Student Islamic Organisation’s (SIO) Maharashtra secretary

pune Updated: Oct 06, 2017 21:12 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
Vande Mataram,Muslim,minority
Students of the Rafi Ahmad Kidwai Urdu High school, Bhavani Peth. (HT Photo)

A number of parents of students studying in Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) Urdu medium schools have expressed disappointment with the civic body’s proposal to make the recitation of ‘Vande Mataram’ mandatory in civic schools.

This move is divisive, a number of parents said while speaking to Hindustan Times.

Student Islamic Organisation’s (SIO) secretary (Maharashtra) Nadeem Shaikh, said,“This is a deliberate attempt by the saffron-dominated PMC to fan the flames of divisiveness in this city known for its harmony and tolerance. The PMC should instead focus on basic facilities and good quality education in civic schools. Why is the PMC ignoring important priorities in school?” he asked.

On Wednesday, the PMC general body unanimously approved a proposal mooted by Shiv Sena corporator Nana Bhangire to make the singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ mandatory in civic schools. The PMC has 34 Urdu schools in a total of 309 municipal schools in the city.

While the BJP has been pressing for the mandatory singing of this 1937 composition by poet Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, in schools and other establishments, the Supreme Court held a different view on the matter. Responding to a petition by BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, the SC said that there is no concept of a national song. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said Article 51A (fundamental duties) of the Constitution requires to promote and propagate the National Anthem and the National Flag.

“The Article does not refer to a National Song. It only refers to National Flag and National Anthem. Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned,” the bench said, rejecting the prayer of petitioner Upadhyay.

A number of parents of students in Urdu schools in the city said they were opposed to the singing of the song on religious grounds, which was well accepted.

“There is no need for compulsion to sing a particular song. Such steps are disturbing communal harmony. If people want to sing voluntarily, they are welcome but compulsion is no way to show patriotism,” Shakil Sayyad, the father of a fifth standard student said.

Another parent, Javed Sheikh said that the compulsion of singing a particular song “is a wrong method to decide whether a person is patriotic.”

“As we are government servants, we cannot refuse any government decision. However, since the last couple of years, decisions are being taken to target a particular community. This is not good for our democracy. The National Anthem and other patriotic songs should be sung to unite citizens, not divide them,” said Farida Mokashi, principal of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Urdu High School.

Zakira Khan, in-charge of Shantabai Ladkat Urdu Medium School, said, “In my school there are a large number of students from madarasas who cannot sing ‘Vande Mataram’ because they don’t know the language.”

First Published: Oct 06, 2017 20:56 IST