Twelve students studying at Saint Joseph, a missionary school in the Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, were suspended by the school staff for allegedly raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans inside the school. The Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad volunteers staged protests demanding strict action against the school authorities.
The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, commonly referred to as the national child commission, has issued a notice to the Sagar District Magistrate, over constitutional rights of the children.
The two theories in the public domain
Regional head of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Ashutosh Tiwari, told the media that on 9 December during recess, students were having lunch in the corridor. During lunch, one of the students raised the slogan, Jai Shri Ram. Soon the other students sitting next to him cheered and chanted Jai Shri Ram.
The principal after this incident called up the students and scolded them. The students were later suspended by the school authorities.
The next day on Saturday, the parents of these students were called to the school and were forced to write an apology letter. Fearing suspension and further action, the parents said nothing.
The school principal, sister Mauli, on the other hand, said the school is quite big and hence the administration has divided the building into several blocks. It is a basic rule in the school that any other students cannot enter these blocks unless they have their classes there.
On Friday, some of the students from the 10th standard entered the other block. The teacher called them out and asked them to go back. Instead of going back, these students misbehaved with the teacher and asked the teacher to go back. Considering their unacceptable behavior, one of the students was suspended while nine others wrote an apology letter promising they will not repeat the same in the future, she said.
She added that news reports are false and no incident related to raising of slogans happened in the school.
On Monday (12 December), ABVP volunteers assembled in front of the school and demanded strict action against the principal. The protests lasted for three hours. These protestors carried saffron flags and stood in front of the school gate.
It is pertinent to mention here that parents of the children suspended from the school are silent. Not a single parent has come forward to complain about the incident. Hence, there is little clarity about the issue.
On the same day when the protestors reached the school, the district magistrate Sapna Tripathi and the District Educational Officer (DEO) Akhilesh Pathak reached the school for inspection.
The Child Commission
After the alleged incident was reported and highlighted on social media platforms, the National Commission for the protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), issued a notice to DM, Sagar.
The notice mentioned that stopping these children from raising religious slogans is a violation of their fundamental right, freedom of religion precisely. It is also mentioned in the notice that suspending a student for this cause is a violation of section 17 of the Right to Education, 2009.
The commission also demanded a report on the concerned matter within seven days.
A detailed video related to the report can be seen here on Facebook.
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