Essay Contest on Prophet Muhammad in Karnataka Draws Hindutva Ire

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The headmaster, who was heckled by Sri Ram Sene mob, defended his action stating that they celebrated Valmiki Jayanti, Kanaka Jayanti, and other such events in past.

Syed Ali Mujtaba

GADAG, KARNATAKA – Headmaster of a government high school in Nagavi village in the Gadag district of Karnataka was heckled by Sri Rama Sene activists for asking students to write an essay on Prophet Muhammad at an essay writing competition organised in his school. The incident took place on September 27, 2022.

 Recounting his ordeal to the media, Headmaster Abdul Munafar Bijapur said, “The Sri Rama Sene activists barged into the school premises and heckled me in my room for asking the students to write an essay on Prophet Muhammad.”

Bijapur has 28 years of experience in teaching. He is working in this school for the last three years.

“Every month there are at least one or two events like this in the school. There were essay competitions on Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa, and other personalities too in the past. These essay competitions are held to introduce the students to these personalities and to help them improve their knowledge,” he said.

No malafide intentions

Absolving himself from any wrongdoing, the headmaster said earlier, some people known to him offered to sponsor prize money of Rs 5,000 for an essay competition on Prophet Muhammad and gave copies of the book on the subject. “In order to improve the general knowledge of the students, we organised an essay competition without any malafide intentions.”

The headmaster defended his action stating that they celebrated Valmiki Jayanti, Kanaka Jayanti, and other such events in past, likewise they conducted this event too. He denied the allegation of indulging in religious conversion of the students by organising the event.

However, Raju Khanappanavar of Sri Rama Sene said that they had gone to visit the school to question why the headmaster held the essay competition only on Prophet Muhammed.

Heckling

“The headmaster claims that some person came to the school and offered Rs 5,000 for the winner and he agreed to hold the essay competition. As a teacher, he should not allow the promotion of any one religion. In a way he is putting other communities in a bad light by promoting Islam among young minds,” he said.

GM Basavalingappa, the deputy director of public instruction, Gadag, reacting to the incident, said, “The headmaster gave the books to the 43 students who took part in the competition and he asked them to take it to their homes. There were no government circulars to conduct such competitions. I have ordered an inquiry into the incident,” he said.  But the headmaster insist that he maintained a record of all the programmes he held related to Hindu personalities and others and can produce them when needed.

“There were seven teachers who are witness to the incident of a few activists of Sri Rama Sene barged into the premises and heckled me,” he said.

The heckling incident of the headmaster in a government school by antisocial elements belonging to rightwing Hindutva forces has left the school of 172 students and seven teachers in a state of shock.
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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

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