New Delhi: Directors of the Florets International school in Kanpur have been booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police under Sections 295A of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5(1) of the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2021. The FIR was registered after a complaint and protest by Hindutva activists over the recitation of Islamic prayers – as part of multi-faith worship – in the school.
The school remained shut for the second day in a row over the protests.
The FIR was registered against the school late in the evening on August 1. ACP Nishank Sharma confirmed this development to The Wire, stating that an investigation has been initiated in the case.
The complaint submitted to the Sismau police station states that “an attempt is being made by the school to pave way for religious conversion of the students”. It goes on to add that the school is carrying out “Shiksha Jihad” as students are being made to recite an Islamic prayer.
The prayer book in question, accessed by The Wire, has prayers pertaining to multiple faiths, including the Gayatri Mantra, Sanchi Vaani and a pledge about belonging in India.
In a video statement, Florets principal Shradha Sharma stated that multi-faith prayers had been part of the morning assembly since the school’s founding in 2003 but following the objections raised by some parents to the presence of Islamic prayers, the school authorities have decided to only recite the national anthem. She added, “We followed prayers of all religions and not any one particular faith, this has been the case for the past 12-13 years.”
In UP’s Kanpur, parents objected to recitation of Islamic prayer during morning prayer at a school. Pincipal says prayers from all religions- Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism & Christianity are recited. After objection to Islamic prayers, now only national anthem will be sung. pic.twitter.com/ut2soslNpa
— Piyush Rai (@Benarasiyaa) August 1, 2022
“Seal school for carrying out Shiksha Jihad”
The complaint against the school demands that the school should be sealed alongside other branches of the school.
Speaking to The Wire, Vishwa Hindu Parishad district president Yuvraj Dwivedi, one of of the persons protesting against the recitation of prayers, said, “We met the parents yesterday evening, the parents stated that their children had been reciting Islamic prayers and they were deeply worried. After the protests our complaint has been taken into account and an FIR has been registered. We feel there is a bigger conspiracy at play here.”
Hindutva organisations reportedly carried out a “purification ritual” at the school to register their protest. BJP leaders Mahendra Shukla and Dheeraj Sahu visited the school demanding action against the management. The leaders had claimed that the school had been purified with ganga jal.
ACP Nishank Sharma had previously said that a tweet had surfaced on social media stating that an Islamic prayer was being recited in the school premises. When asked, the school stated that prayers of all faiths were recited in the morning assembly and that had been the case for close to 12 years. The school also announced that this can be stopped and only the national anthem sung.
ADM City Atul Kumar in a statement issued on Monday stated that the school has declared a holiday amid the row.
The Wire reached out to Florets school, but could not receive a comment. This story will be updated when a comment is received.
Note: An earlier version of this report mistakenly identified the ACP as ‘Nishank Verma’.
This article was first published on The Wire.