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Hyderabad: Schools in a fix over national song

Hyderabad: Government schools in the old city are in a dilemma over the instructions of the district education officer (DEO), Hyderabad making it mandatory to chant ‘Vande Mataram’ during the morning assembly. They believe it will create unnecessary tension as parents will oppose it.

DEO B. Venkata Narasamma held a meeting of deputy education officers and deputy inspectors of schools on October 31, in which she reviewed various matters related to the functioning of government and aided schools. The minutes of the meeting were prepared by the education department and sent a week ago to the headmasters of the schools for implementation.
Agenda No. 12 of the said meeting dealt with the morning prayer and a schedule was given. It says: ‘prayer should be conducted in a systematic manner: A. Vande Mataram B. Jayajayahe Telangana C. Pledge D. News reading e. Sukhti and GK questions F. Message by HM/teacher about 2 mins G. National anthem. Rhythm should be maintained in the prayer.’ This created confusion among the teaching fraternity, particularly those working in the old city.

Mohammed Kashif, whose ward is studying in Asifnagar government school, said that reciting Vande Mataram is against the beliefs of Muslims. It is the basic tenet of Islam that nobody and  nothing else is entitled to be worshipped except Allah. “We respect and love our country, but it does not mean that we have to worship it. Students should not be forced to recite Vande Mataram,” he said. He hopes the government will intervene and issue instructions to the education department not to insist on the song during the assembly.

A senior government teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it is a sensitive matter which creates problems for them when many parents are irked at this mixing of religion in education and Muslims have reservations about the song. “When we sought clarification with the officials, they told us that it is not compulsory,” the teacher said.

Abdullah Faiz, secretary, public relations, students Islamic organisation, Telangana, said the DEO’s  orders to sing Vande Mataram during daily assembly is unconstitutional and against the Supreme Court’s 2017 judgment which clearly states that Vande Mataram cannot be given status on par with the national anthem as there is no provision in the constitution regarding a national song.

Likewise, Article 51 of the constitution only mentions national flag and national anthem, but not national song. “We, on behalf of SIO TS strongly condemn such orders and demand the authorities to repeal it as soon as possible to avert any controversy,” he said.

National president of the All India Ideal Teachers Association Prof. Anwarullah Khan said officials should not insist on anything that is not mandatory. Vande Mataram has no legal sanctity such as the national anthem. This kind of instruction will create unnecessary problems in schools, he said.