Staff Reporter

Alappuzha RDO submits report to District Collector on incident

Alappuzha MP demands exemplary action

Organisations take out protest march to school

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/ALAPPUZHA : The Deputy Director of Education, Alappuzha, in an inquiry, has found ‘merit' in the complaint of a Muslim girl that she was issued transfer certificate from the Believers' Church English Medium School, Gurupuram, because she wore a headscarf (maftha) to school. Alappuzha Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) A. Gopakumar has also submitted a report to the District Collector on the incident

The interim report by the Deputy Director of Education was submitted to the Director of Public Instruction (DPI) A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish on Wednesday. “The DD's interim report states that the level of cooperation extended to the inquiry by the school authorities was not up to the expected level. The defence offered by t0he school authorities did not seem convincing to the DD,” Mr. Hanish told The Hindu on Wednesday.

On the basis of the interim report, the DPI has asked the DDE, Alappuzha, to conduct a more detailed inquiry — this time talking directly to the girl's parents — and submit a final report by Thursday. Any action by the government would be initiated after the receipt of the final report, he added.

Meantime, following media reports on the issue, the State Human Rights Commission swing into action and ordered an inquiry into the incident. The commission registered a case suo motu and ordered the Principal Secretary, General Education, to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report. In its notice, the commission said that if the incident was true, it violated individual and religious freedoms. The commission said that this was an issue that merited urgent attention, a press note issued here said.

The Alappuzha RDO conducted a probe into the incident on the instructions of Collector P. Venugopal. The RDO has taken the statements of the student, her parents and the authorities of the school. The TC was issued on April 26. Though the report is yet to be made public, the Collector indicated that there was “basically a violation of rights by the school” by denying the student her right to follow her religious custom. The Collector said the meeting would be held in his chambers on May 7.

Though the school is understood to have expressed its willingness to take back the student, her father, Nazir Musaliar, is reluctant to do so fearing repercussions for his child since the issue has taken controversial proportions. Meanwhile, protest marches were taken out to the school here on Wednesday by various organisations including the Popular Front of India and the Students' Islamic Organisation. Local MP K.C. Venugopal said in a statement that he had written to Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal demanding a probe into the issue. Such an incident is a disgrace to the secular values of the country and exemplary action should be initiated against the culprits based on a comprehensive inquiry, he said.