The weekly holiday in more than 100 government-run schools in the Muslim-dominated areas in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district has been changed to Friday from Sunday apparently without any permission from the authorities.
The revelation — to which Jharkhand Education Minister Jagarnath Mahto took a strong exception — came after an investigation was initiated into the matter, following which it was learnt that a similar trend was being followed in some Muslim-dominated areas in Palamu and Pakur districts as well.
In fact, the teachers of these schools also take week-offs on Friday instead of Sunday. However, the education department of the state government seemed clueless about it.
When Jagarnath Mahto interacted on this issue with the officials of the Education Department posted in various districts through a video-conference, he sought to know how such a system was implemented without any orders of the government.
Some officials submitted that the teachers introduced it under the pressure of the village education committees formed to look after the schools.
Responding to this, the minister said that “such village education committees should be dissolved immediately”.
“This proves that you do not inspect the schools. How can the village education committees enforce their rules and regulations ignoring the government order,” Mahto asked.
Jharkhand Director of Primary Education, Dilip Toppo, has sought a report within a week from all the district education officers of the state regarding the weekly holiday in schools, the modalities of prayer and change of names of schools without permission.
He said that action would be taken against the teachers of the schools and village education committees that violated the rules, once he receives the reports from the districts.
It was first reported in Jamtara district that under the pressure of the local (Muslim majority) population, weekly holiday of Friday instead of Sunday was implemented in more than 100 schools, and it has been going on for the last one-and-a-half years. Surprisingly, the officials of the Education Department remained oblivious.
It is being said that the Muslim population of these areas is about 70 per cent. On their pressure, the village education committees have suffixed “Urdu school” along with the names of many schools, and some of the schools eben installed boards to this effect.
Some people arguing in favour of this submitted that “if 70 per cent Muslim students study in schools, Friday holiday is justified for Friday prayers”.
Meanwhile, a political slugfest has began over the issue.
Several BJP leaders, including former Chief Ministers Babulal Marandi, Raghubar Das, state BJP President Deepak Prakash, and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey have accused the Hemant Soren-led state government of allowing changes in the government rules for appeasement.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Jamtara, Irfan Ansari, has said that Friday has been “ear-marked” as holiday according to the convenience of the local people.
He accused the BJP of giving unnecessary importance to the matter, and trying to disturb social harmony.