Symbolic picture


Eleven members of the management committee of a school in Madhya Pradesh have been booked for allegedly forcing girl students to wear hijab in the school, police said on Sunday. The incident took place at Ganga Jamna Higher Secondary School in Damoh district, about 11 km from bhopal.

Members of the management committee of the government-aided minority school were booked by the Damoh Kotwali police on Wednesday under Sections 295 (damaging or desecrating anything considered sacred by any class), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code as well as provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. The charges have been levelled against nine Muslim and two non-Muslim persons.

Damoh Superintendent of Police Rakesh Singh said, "The high-powered committee had taken statements of some girl students of the school. Based on the recommendations of the committee, the local police registered an FIR against 11 members of the school's management committee.

According to Damoh police sources, the FIR was registered on the basis of statements of three students, two girls and a boy, studying in classes 6 and 8. All the three students are Hindus. The students claimed that the school management forced them to wear hijab inside the school premises.

Additionally, the three students said they were forced to remove the sacred thread (Kalava) from their wrists and the religious symbol (Tilak) from their foreheads. He was also forced to recite Allama Iqbal's poem "Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua Banke Tamanna" during morning prayers.

The FIR was lodged hours after state Home Minister Narottam Mishra held discussions with reporters in Bhopal. He had directed the Damoh district police to register an FIR against the school. The minister said the angle of religious conversion will also be probed.

Ganga Jamuna Higher Secondary School is already facing an inquiry for allegedly forcing non-Muslim girl students to wear 'hijab'.

Earlier, the school in Damoh district had released a poster of its board exam toppers in which some girls, who are not Muslims, are seen wearing scarves. The poster was widely shared on social media. It was alleged that the girls were forced to wear hijab by the school.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Priyank Kanoongo later took up the matter with the Damoh district collector.

Right-wing groups, including the VHP, Bajrang Dal and ABVP, had staged a protest in Damoh, accusing the Ganga Jamuna Higher Secondary School of forcing non-Muslim girl students to wear the hijab.

The collector said he received the NCPCR complaint on May 30 and the Damoh district education officer met the families of the students.

Despite the findings of the investigation, Hindu right-wing groups continued to protest. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered the Damoh district administration to conduct a fresh inquiry. Subsequently, a high-powered committee was formed to re-investigate the matter.

Five days ago, the Madhya Pradesh government suspended the recognition of the school for violating the state government's rules regarding the recognition of secondary and higher secondary schools.

School Education Minister I S Parmar also ordered the removal of Damoh District Education Officer from his post for giving a clean chit to the school without a thorough investigation. The minister also alleged that the district collector's role was "suspicious" after the incident.

Yesterday, some ruling party workers allegedly threw ink on the face of DEO SK Mishra, accusing him of giving a clean chit to the administration of Ganga Jamna Higher Secondary School following a controversy.