VASCO Tension flared up at a Higher Secondary School (HSS) based in Dabolim on Monday after many of its students were sent to attend a workshop at a masjid two days earlier, with the female students being asked to wear hijabs.
The school management later suspended the principal, Shankar Gaonkar, and clarified it was unaware that students had been sent to attend the workshop in the masjid.
The shocking incident
According to information, the incident took place on Saturday when Gaonkar and some teachers of the HSS took the students to a masjid as part of a workshop, based on an invitation from the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIOOI).
Hindu groups claimed students from two schools, Keshav Smriti HSS at Dabolim and Government HSS at Baina, had taken part in the event at the masjid. They will also visit the Government HSS at Baina on Tuesday with a similar complaint. Girl students at both schools were seen wearing the traditional hijab, while male students were seen performing a ritual of washing one’s face, hands, arms and feet with the intent of cleansing oneself for performing prayers. Photos of this incident later went viral on social media.
On Monday, some parents and members of Hindu organisations went to the school office and confronted the chairman of the school managing committee and some staff at the school over the incident. Tension prevailed in the school as parents and activists demanded an explanation over the incident. A police team rushed to the site to maintain law and order.
The Keshav Smriti HSS management, meanwhile, suspended the principal Shankar Gaonkar in connection with the incident.
Speaking to reporters in the school Keshav Smriti HSS Chairman Pandurang Korgaonkar clarified that the school management was unaware that the students were sent to a masjid to participate in a workshop adding the management had already suspended Goankar till further notice.
"It is sad that such an incident has occurred, and the photos have gone viral. The HSS had received an invitation, but it was not a government circular. It was an organisation which was planning to have a workshop,” said Korgaonkar.
The principal, however, took the students to participate in the workshop with an intention to have inter-religious communal harmony which was mentioned in the circular. We are, however, not aware that students were seen performing Muslim rituals and I have already tendered my apology to all parents.
'Such incidences wont happen in future'
“The management has committed a mistake by allowing such incident to happen, but I can assure that such things will not happen in future. This is a secular school where students have gone to become doctors, scientists and even IAS officers, but this is for the first time that such an unfortunate incident has happened.”
“We have already suspended Goankar and we will also issue a memo to other teachers who were a part of this workshop along with the principal," said Korgaonkar.