In a bizarre case, four teachers have been suspended in a school in Central Gujarat after they reportedly allowed students to thump their chests and mimic Tazia, the Muslim mourning ritual at a school garba function. Four of the 17 school teachers have been suspended after two RSS “leaders” helped the local Hindu parents file complaints. Interestingly, only one of the 17 teachers in the school, Sabira is a Muslim. She along with three others has been suspended for “hurting Hindu sentiments” by a local government education agency.
The incident occurred at Hathaj Primary School in Nadiad Taluka, Kheda district of Gujarat.
The population of Hathaj village is 7026. The school has 570 students out of which the majority, about 342 that is 60 % are Muslim students. The school organised a garba function on Friday, September 30 to celebrate the ongoing Navratri festival. The students came in enthusiastically.
According to information that Vibes of India could gather after talking to parents, village leaders and a few students, the event started and the students played garba. Even Muslim students participated and played the garba. According to a student, the Muslim students who had turned up for the garba were many more than Hindu students. So, after a while, they asked for a change in music.
There are two completely contradictory versions of what happened. The RSS claims that the teachers deliberately put on “Muslim Music” and thereby “corrupted” the garba festival and thereby hurt Hindu sentiments. Two village seniors said the village has always been an example of communal solidarity but now the RSS was poisoning the Hindu population there.
It must be noted that no student present at the garba function was beyond 14 years of age.
There were 17 teachers present and the videos available with Vibes of India (Vo!) shows more than 60 students thumping their chests to Ya Ali Ya Hussain which is played in the background. No student is seen objecting to this in the video. One version is that those thumping their chests are all Muslim kids and their Hindu classmates stood on the sides, cheering them up. However, another version claimed that even Hindu kids were forced. Vibes of India has personally not been able to confirm any of these versions. However, in the videos in possession of Vibes of India, several kids are spotted wearing blue T-shirts with Hathaj Muslim Group written on it.
Hathaj has a population of about 7063 residents. After some students wearing the blue Hathaj Muslim Club moved around in the village, the local Hindus and two Hindu leaders in the village decided to get into the matter. Claiming that their Hindu children had been polluted by this ghastly act, they submitted a memorandum to Kheda district collector K L Bachani.
Bachani reportedly investigated the matter with “utmost urgency” and within 24 hours, the District Education Branch identified four teachers responsible for the act. The four teachers who have been suspended for stoking communal hatred include a Muslim teacher Sabira Vohra and three Christain teachers Jagrutiben Ravikant Sagar, Ektaben Dinubhai Aakasi and Sonalben Ramanbhai Vaghela.
Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti and Hathaj Sangharsh Samiti had also submitted a complaint to the Collector and demanded an impartial inquiry into the conspiracy. Rajan Tripathi of Hindu Dharma Sena, Kheda wrote to the management about this. Tripathi said,”Mataji’s garba was going on in the school. Somehow, some Muslim teachers stopped the music and started playing tajia. They even asked the students to play tajia instead of garba. We don’t mind the school having Muslim teachers but this is an attempt to hurt the sentiments of the Hindu samaj. They also gave T-shirts with the symbol of their religion to the students.”
Why did Hindu teachers allow Tajiya?
The Primary school has 17 teachers of which one is Muslim –Saberaben Sikandarbhai Vohra while around five teachers are Christians–Jagrutiben Ravikant Sagar, Ektaben Dinubhai Aakasi, Sonalben Ramanbhai Vaghela, Milkhaben and others. Here, the question is why did Hindu teachers allow or followed Muslim teachers in performing tajiya? To this Amarsinh Zala said “Students requested it and teachers allowed it. They didn’t find anything wrong. They didn’t intend today to deny their request. There is no communal side to this incident.”
Gautam Patel, RSS member presents another counterview, “Hindu teachers were helpless and therefore they followed the Muslim and Christain teachers. Hindus, in general, are helpless and it’s high time that we fight back and not get suppressed.” Patel could not explain why the Hindu teachers—who outnumbered Muslim, Christain teachers–allowed Tazia performance for their students.
Deputy Sarpanch of Hathaj, Nadiad Iqbal Pathan believes that there is communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in their village but this incident is a “political move to create differences.”. He said, “Post Garba, Muslim students requested their teachers to play tajiya and therefore the teachers allowed it. Only Muslim students played Tajiya, not Hindus. No one was forced here. Also, no students have distributed T-shirts to the Muslim community. It was a celebration and so, students were allowed to wear clothes of their choice–and they did.”
“Neither villagers nor any community knew about this incident. It was all done by the school and its teachers and it was all impromptu. There was no intention to malign any community.” adds Pathan.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member from Nadiad, Gautam Patel told Vibes of India, “School teachers pre-planned to bring T-shirts for innocent students and force them to play tajiya. Even earlier, this school refused to celebrate Hindu festivals. Here, school teachers are Hindus converted to Muslims or to Christianity. We had given them strict warning earlier but this time, it was too much. They want to play with students and force them to practice Islam.”
Amarsinh Zala, former Sarpanch, Hathaj, Nadiad pointed out that the Primary School has 570 students and out of them 342 students are Muslims and 228 are Hindus. He said, “Once the students started playing Garba, they requested the teachers to perform Tajiya. The majority of the students are Muslims and it’s all right if they want to perform their rituals in the school. The only mistake was–it coincided with Navratri, our auspicious festival. Had it been done after Navratri then, it would not have been an issue.”
“In Nadiad, Hindus and Muslims live in peace. This video went viral and people started looking at this school in a negative light but this looks like a planted incident to defame our village and create differences between Hindus and Muslims,” adds Zala.
Kamlesh Patel, District Primary Education Officer said, “A video of Muslim students doing tajiya in the Garba program held in the primary school of Hathaj village has gone viral. An investigation has been conducted regarding the entire incident. The Taluka Primary Education Officer will investigate and report on Monday.”
The locals also gave a memorandum to the district collector KL Bachani demanding actions against the responsible persons. Parents had also complained against the school and threatened to shut it down.
Tajiya is a Shia Islam ritual that reenacts the death of Hussein–the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s grandson in a massacre on the plains of Karbala, Iraq.
Also read: Gujarat Bus Operators Should Not Stop At Muslim Dhabas Or Be Ready For Consequences