UP School Headmaster Suspended As His Students Recite An Urdu Poem, After Right-Wing Complains
Mohammad Furkan Ali, 45, a Headmaster of a government school called Primary School Ghayaspur, in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit, was suspended following a complaint by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal leaders who alleged that the students were forced into singing “an Islamic prayer” in the morning assembly.
In a video, the children are found reciting legendary poet and philosopher Allama Iqbal’s ‘Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua’, the same person who wrote ‘Saare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Humara’ in 1904.
On Monday, an order issued by Bisalpur’s Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Devendra Swarup states, “As per a viral video on social media, it came to our knowledge that at Primary School, Ghayaspur, students are being made to sing a different prayer other than the commonly accepted one. School headmaster Mohammad Furkan Ali prima facie has been found responsible for this and thus he has been suspended.”
But the official also added that the complaint by VHP and Bajrang Dal members was not concerned about the recitation of the national anthem — it was an objection against the poem by Iqbal.
After the enquiry was finished by Block Education Officer (BEO) Upendra Kumar, the District Magistrate Vaibhav Srivastava told The Indian Express, “If he (headmaster) gets a poem recited and not the national anthem, then there is an offence against him. If he wanted to do something different, he should have taken the government’s permission.”
In 2016, the UP government issued a directive, stating that singing the national anthem is compulsory for every school, without exemption.
However, there is no punishment amounting to suspension, prescribed even in the Home Ministry’s order on the national anthem. In fact, the MHA’s order makes it the choice of every school as it says, “In all schools, the day’s work may begin with community singing of the Anthem.”
As per a report by Hindustan Times, according to the complainants, ‘Saraswati Vandana’ as prayer, and the national anthem as a routine, should have been recited.
VHP district chief Ambarish Mishra said that he objected to a “madrasa prayer” being recited at a government primary school and asserted that the headmaster had to be dismissed from service “for an anti-national act.”
But denying the allegation, suspended Headmaster Ali maintained that the national anthem is sung “every day” in his school.
“VHP and Hindu Yuva Vahini workers held protests outside the school and at the Collectorate, demanding my removal. The poem is a part of the government school syllabus. My students raise patriotic slogans such as ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ every day during the assembly”, Fukran Ali added.
Ali also said that his school, which has more Muslim students in its total strength of 267, sings the Urdu poem, ‘Itni Shakti Hamein Dena Daata’ and the National Anthem for its morning assembly since 2011.
“Some people are trying to give it a communal colour,” he alleged, terming his suspension “arbitrary and unjustified.”
A Closer Look At The Urdu Poem’s Lyrics
Allama Iqbal’s well-known poem was written especially for children.
A part of its lyrics say –
“ho mire dam se yuu.nhii mere vatan kii ziinat
jis tarah phuul se hotii hai chaman kii ziinat”
(May my country attain greatness through me
Like a garden attains its beauty through elegant flowers)
“ho miraa kaam Gariibo.n kii himaayat karnaa
dard-mando.n se za.iifo.n se mohabbat karnaa”
(Let my work be dedicated to helping the needy
And fill the lives of the old and vulnerable with love)