A few Christian management schools in Kerala notorious for their intolerant approach towards Muslim students and Islamic identities have once again come under scanner with a strange way of punishment ordered by the Head Mistress of Kurumbanadam St. Joseph’s English Medium School.
The Head Mistress who is a Christian nun as well, made two of her students draw ‘Holy Cross’ on the concrete floor using their tongue as a way of punishment for talking during the school assembly. Hanna Nazriya – a class one student and Akshara studying in the third standard were the victims. The incident came to light only when other students started making fun of them over the incident.
Nazriya’s father, who approached the school, seeking explanation over the incident too had to face harassment from another teacher, who went on to the extent of justifying the Headmistress’s action saying that there is nothing wrong in punishing students that way. She took upon Nazriya’s father saying that the family circumstances have a lot to do with the kid’s discipline.
It was only after protests from the IUML and SDPI workers that the Changanassery Additional Education Officer [AEO] Appukuttan called a meeting where it was decided that the Headmistress would apologize in public before the PTA meeting to be held on Monday. Another issue brought to AEO’s notice during the meeting was regarding the ‘Holy Cross’ sign embroidered in the uniforms of schools run by Christian management.
The IUML and SDPI local leaders sought immediate action as students belonging to different communities are studying in these schools and such rules are against their religious principles. AEO assured them of bringing this issue into the notice of District Educational Officer. Few civil rights activist groups in Kerala has offered support for the protest against the Christian school administrations like Nirmala prohibiting head scarf for Muslim students.
The action council formed by Muslim organizations in Ernakulum to address the
issue had a meeting with the district administration at the Collector’s
chamber. It was after this meeting the District ADM ordered the school
managements to revise their policy towards Muslim head scarf. Even after the
ADM order, there were cases of forcing Muslim students to remove their head
scarves and the action council followed up their protest with a series of
campaigns and marches.
As part of the protest the Muslim Mahal Imam’s have decided to hold a march to those schools as well. The Kerala Action Force co-ordinator Jobi Thomas has termed the prohibition of head scarf by school authorities as a human right violation as well as vilation of the constitutional rights of a citizen.
They had earlier submitted complaint letters before the chief minister and state human rights commission. The letter describes the schools administration’s insistence on ‘anti-Muslim’ stands as disrupting the social fabric and communal harmony of the state. Organisations like Dalit – Muslim Sawhruda Vedi and Jana Vedi too have demanded strict actions against the Nirmala School and their teaching staffs who are Christian nuns, if found violating the ADM order.
The Kerala Congress District Secretary AV Roy, in his statement, questioned the logic of Christian nun’s wearing head scarf and while Muslim students are being prevented from doing so. Roy said, “They both should have equal rights in wearing head scarf”.