VHP calls SIO-organized mosque visit for communal harmony 'anti-national'; Goa school principal suspendedtext_fields
Panaji: The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) termed an act aimed at fostering communal harmony among students of different faiths as anti-national activity and persuaded school management to ensure the school principal was suspended for taking Class 11 students to a mosque for a workshop in Goa.
School principal Shankar Gaonkar, the principal of Keshav Smruti Higher Secondary School in Alto-Dabolim, South Goa, has been suspended following a police complaint filed by members of the VHP, according to a report published in The Indian Express.
The complaint alleges that the principal, Gaonkar, took a group of Class 11 students to a mosque for a workshop, where they were supposedly coerced into performing religious rituals.
The workshop, organized by the Student Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), aimed to promote communal harmony and interfaith understanding. Gaonkar defended the school's decision to participate, stating that similar visits to temples, churches, and mosques had been organized in the past as part of their efforts to foster inclusivity.
However, the VHP and some parents have raised objections, alleging that the students were taken to the mosque without parental consent and claiming that at least two students were taken against their will.
Education Director Shailesh Zingde confirmed that the State Education Department had sought an explanation from the school management regarding the incident. The department is awaiting their response.
Asif Hussain, the state president of Jammat-e-Islami Hind, the parent organization of SIO, Goa zone, denied the allegations of religious conversion. He explained that the workshop was an annual event aimed at building bridges between communities. Students who attended were shown the mosque's prayer areas and were given sweets as part of the visit.
On the other hand, Sanju Korgaoker, Joint Secretary of VHP in South Goa, asserted that the workshop was part of a larger conspiracy to influence young children and accused the principal of not seeking parental consent for the excursion.