School Principal Suspended After Taking Students To Mosque For Workshop

Panaji: The principal of a private school in Vasco was suspended following a police complaint which stated that he had allegedly taken class 11 students to a mosque for a workshop and asked them to perform religious rituals.

Students of Keshav Smurthi HS School were invited to the mosque by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) on Saturday as part of an initiative to promote communal harmony, reported NDTV.

The state’s Education department sought an explanation from the school’s board.

“The department has sought an explanation from the school management and the response is awaited. The principal, Shankar Gaonka, has been suspended since,” said Education Director Shailesh Zingde.

Members of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) complained against the principal to Vasco police for allegedly supporting ‘anti-national activities’.

The VHP claimed that the workshop was conducted by an organisation which was affiliated to the banned Popular Front of India.

The suspended principal defended his action.

“A total of 21 students from our school, including three girl students and a teacher, were taken to the mosque. Students were shown where the prayers are conducted and entry-exit areas at the mosque. Some students may have covered their heads out of respect. The claim that students were forced to wear hijab or perform rituals is false,” Gaonka told The Indian Express.

He added that the school had taken students to temples, churches and mosques for visits before also.

“Children from all the faiths study at the school. Some students from another school had also visited the mosque. I do not know why I have been suspended,” he said.

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