Mumbai: Notice to school on CAA event politically motivated, says BJP vice-president Kirit Somaiya

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BJP vice-president Kirit Somaiya.

BJP vice-president Kirit Somaiya on Tuesday demanded strong action against the school education department for serving a notice to a city-based school that had last Saturday organised a pro-CAA programme, which was attended by students.

After the event was reported in the media, the school education department had issued a showcause notice to the Matunga-based Shree Dayanand Balak, Balika Vidyalaya and Junior College.

In a letter to Vijaysingh Ghatge, Senior Inspector of Matunga police station, Somaiya said, “The pro-CAA campaign was organised by some non-government organisation. The function was not held in the school premises. There was no role of BJP or the school in the event. If some students support the cause voluntarily, how can the school management be held responsible?” He claimed that the move was tantamount to the ministry harassing the school.

Alleging there was a clear political motive, he added: “The department issued a notice to the school asking it to explain its conduct on Saturday (January 11). Since next day was Sunday, a holiday, the school received the notice on Monday. But the education department’s notice to the school has already come to the media on January 11.”

While admitting that schools and colleges cannot be coerced into following any political decision, Somaiya said, “The government notice cannot be justified as the function was neither held in the school premises nor was organised by its management.”

Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said, “I still don’t understand what is the relation between these issues and young school-going children. Why are they being made to participate in these programmes when there are other important topics they could be focusing on?”

BJP leader Ashish Shelar called the school department circular a “fatwa”. In a statement, he said, “The circular is a fatwa against speaking, learning and understanding the CAA, which has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament, approved by the President and notified in the gazette. Instead, will state school students be taught rules of the Naxals?”

On January 10, the Matunga-based school, which is run by the Arya Samaj, had organised an hour-long programme on a public ground next to its campus where local BJP leaders, including corporator Nehal Shah, had interacted with students studying in classes VIII, IX, X and those in first and second-year of junier college to “spread awareness” and “correct misinformation” about CAA.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Somaiya parried questions on claims that his party used school children in an attempt to project support for CAA. When asked, he had just one response for NDTV: “Maine aapko jawaab de diya hai (I have replied to your question)”. He repeated that sentence 27 times.