Indian school manager booked under conversion law
Hindu parents complain about Islamic texts being recited during morning prayers at Uttar Pradesh school
People take part in a procession on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti in Noida in Uttar Pradesh on April 17
Police in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has booked the manager of a private school in Kanpur city under the anti-conversion law for hurting religious sentiments.
According to media reports some Hindu parents complained on Aug. 2 about Islamic texts being recited during morning prayers at Florets International School.
However, police said no arrests have been made till today.
“I am very surprised that an incident like this has happened as there were no reports of such cases in our localities in the past,” said Father Louis Mascarenhas, diocesan administrator of Allahabad.
He told UCA News that it was too early to say what forces are behind the case and provoked parents to lodge the complaint against the school.
“We have to wait for the outcome of the investigation,” the priest said.
Kanpur assistant commissioner of police Sisamau Nishank Sharma said a case has been lodged against school manager Sumit Makhija after a complaint about Islamic religious texts being recited during morning prayers,
The father of a student alleged that the seeds of conversion were being sown through the recital of prayers.
The case was filed under the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2021, and under Section 295-A of the Penal Code covering deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings, he said.
Meanwhile, school officials said it had put off the practice of reciting prayers from four religions – Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity – and decided to only sing the national anthem.
Principal Ankit Yadav said four prayers were being regularly recited since the school opened in 2003.
Father Louis Mascarenhas said all educational institutions, including minority-run schools across the state, should follow state guidelines and be more careful now.
Critics of the state’s anti-conversion law passed in 2021 say it has deepened the communal faultlines and instilled fear among the minority communities.,
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, with nearly 200 million people of which Muslims account for 19.26 percent and Christians are a miniscule 0.18 percent.
The state is run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“We have never heard of this kind of issue in the state for years but after the conversion bill was passed, cases related to religious conversion are making headlines,” Muhammad Arif, chairman of the Center for Harmony and Peace in Varanasi city, said.
“There may be forces provoking people to disturb the communal harmony in the state and divide people in the name of religion,” the Muslim leader said.
“However, schools should not be biased toward one particular religion and prayers from all faiths should be appreciated,” Arif said.
This article first appeared in https://www.ucanews.com/