Kolkata: Tension ran high at a government school in Howrah district of West Bengal after a scuffle broke out between two groups of students over wearing of ‘namabali’ or saffron scarves and hijab inside classrooms.
The Dhulagori Adarsha Vidyalaya has now been closed for a week and ongoing examinations cancelled. The school has also convened a meeting of its managing committee, parents and the local administration.
It is to note that the school has a blanket ban on students wearing any other attire other than uniforms. Girls are supposed to wear white kurta and dark-blue salwar. For boys, it is white shirt and dark-blue trousers.
On Tuesday morning, a group of Class 12 students wearing saffron scarves demanded they be let inside the school premises since authorities had allowed many girl pupils to wear hijab. Soon, violence broke out between the two groups, with reports stating that school property was also damaged during the clashes.
Arindam Manna, teacher-in-charge at Dhulagori Adarsha Vidyalaya, told the media that the school had Monday reiterated no religious attire will be allowed inside the premises.
“Despite warning, few students came wearing ‘namabali’ and created ruckus. Class 11 and Class 12 exams were cancelled Tuesday. We have called for another meeting of the managing committee and guardians where we will take further decisions,” said Manna.
Meanwhile, a team of Howrah Police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed at the spot to quell tension. Additional forces are also on standby near the school.
ThePrint reached Howrah Police Commissioner Praveen Kumar Tripathi through WhatsApp messages. This copy will be updated once he responds.
Dhulagori Adarsha Vidyalaya was established in 1964 and has a strength of 1,050 students. This is the only high school under the Dhulagori Panchayat.
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‘BJP trying to trigger communal violence’
TMC Minister and Howrah MLA Arup Roy told ThePrint that the incident was an attempt by the BJP to trigger communal violence in the area.
“Girls wearing burkha and hijab is not a new phenomenon in schools in this area. But now, suddenly, boys turning up wearing namabali is surely a conspiracy. BJP has a role to play. I have spoken to the police commissioner and urged for a thorough probe to find out the conspirators. Our priority is to bring back normalcy and reopen the school immediately,” Roy said.
Tuesday’s incident is a stark reminder of the largescale demonstrations that took place in Karnataka earlier this year over hijab and saffron scarves in educational institutes.
Students of Udupi Women’s PU College had staged a protest for weeks when college authorities allegedly refused to let them sit in classrooms wearing hijab.
Soon, some Hindu students of the Government First Grade College in Chikmagalur, which also has an uniform and a dress code, staged a sit-in protest sporting saffron scarves. Their demand was also to allow them to wear saffron scarves if Muslim girl students were allowed to wear hijabs. The tussle over hijab and saffron scarves soon spread to more colleges across the state.
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