The headmaster had made the students recite ‘Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua’ which was written by Iqbal in 1902
After local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit complained against a primary school teacher in Bisalpur for making students recite a ‘religious prayer’, usually recited in madrasas, the district administration had him suspended.
The inquiry initiated by Bisalpur’s Block Education Officer (BEO) Upendra Kumar, headmaster Furqan Ali made students recite ‘Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua’ by Allama Iqbal who had also written ‘Saare Jahaan se Accha’. His inquiry showed that the students usually sang the poem during morning assembly.
‘Saare Jahaan se Accha’ was sung by Mahatma Gandhi while he was imprisoned at Yerawada Jail in the 1930s. It was later recorded by Lata Mangeshkar and is frequently sung as a patriotic song and is a marching song of the Indian Armed Forces. However, the District Magistrate (DM) Vaibhav Srivastava said that Furqan Ali was suspended for not making the students sing the national anthem.
“If the headmaster wanted to teach another poem also to the student, he should have sought permission. If he makes student recite a poem and not the national anthem, then there is an offence against him,” the District Magistrate said.
However, Inspections by the BEO and Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) DevendraSwarup found that the complaint by the VHP members did not question whether the national anthem was being sung or not. It was about the poem, which is usually recited at Urdu schools, being recited.
VHP’s district chief Ambarish Mishra said he opposed a ‘madrasa prayer’ being recited at a government school.
Bisalpur VHP president Ravi Saxena said that a video of the Morning Prayer was sent to him by an anonymous person, after which he took cognizance of the matter. He said, “No one in the country is empowered by the Constitution to exert one’s own religious ideology upon others, either in overt or a circumlocutory manner, especially with the intent of making others follow it. The headmaster was slyly trying to spoil tender brains of little children by promoting Islamic ethics.”
Reacting to the complaint and his ouster, Furqan Ali said, “Students regularly sing the national anthem and the poem by Iqbal is part of the Urdu syllabus for classes one to eight. VHP and Hindu YuvaVahini workers held protests outside the school and at the Collectorate, demanding my removal. I only got a poem, which is part of the government school syllabus, sung. My students also raise patriotic slogans such as ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ every day during the assembly,” he said.
He alleged that the members of the VHP were unnecessarily terming the recitation an ‘anti-national’ act and trying to give a ‘communal flavour to the whole incident.
“School children are made to sing both the songs ‘lab pe aati hai dua’ and ‘itni shakti hamein dena daata’ and the national anthem also. I have been doing this since 2011, but nobody objected to it,” he said claiming his suspension to be arbitrary and unjustified.
What the Poem Really Means
Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua, also known as BachchekiDua, is a dua written in poetic form by Muhammad Iqbal for children. It is frequently sung during morning assemblies as a school song, both in India and Pakistan.
The poem invokes blessings for the entire world, love for one’s country, love for knowledge and blessings for all mankind along with compassion for all human beings.
The poem has no religious connotation whatsoever. The meaning of the poem is given below.
My longing comes to my lips as supplication of mine
Oh God! May like the beauty of the candle be the life of mine
May the world's darkness disappear through the life of mine
May every place light up with the sparkling light of mine
May my homeland through me attain elegance
As the garden through flowers attains elegance
May my life like that of the moth be oh Lord
May I love the lamp of knowledge oh Lord
May supportive of the poor my life's way be
May loving the old, the suffering my way be
My God! Protect me from the evil ways
Show me the path leading to the good ways
Why the VHP can’t question the recitation of the poem
Has the VHP, members of the extreme right wing, who have been looking for every opportunity to alter the current curriculum of the madrasas, seen this incident as just another chance to spread their Hindutva propaganda?
While ‘AeMaalikTereBande Hum’ written by Pandit Bharat Vyas, composed by Vasant Desai and sung by LataMangeshkar had risen above all religious boundaries to be adopted by a Pakistani school as their anthem, it is documented that the RSS, an affiliate organization of the VHP, did not even wish to adopt the tricolor as the flag of India. They instead wanted the BhagwaDhwaj of the RSS to be adopted as the nation’s flag.
It was the madrasas that had become the hubs of nationalism facing the wrath of the British. Celebrated Punjabi litterateur Kartar Singh Duggal says in his autobiography that the Indian maulvis were one with the pandits on the issue of retaining the age-old Indian traditions - both Vedic and Islamic.
There are no rules set by the Ministry of Human Resource Development that controls the Department of Education making the singing of Indian national anthem mandatory. It is a very common practice for schools in different regions of the country to adopt different poems and songs for their morning assemblies. Some examples are listed here:
The current move of the VHP members of demanding action against the Bisalpur headmaster not only shows their mindset towards the secular standing of India, but also these intimidation tactics clearly portray their intention to sell their hyper-nationalist agenda.
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