Tough to find apt words to describe these dark build-ups

As it is, the Muslim community in the country is lagging in the education sphere and incidents like the one which happened in a school in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district  will only add to this dismal reality!

On  25 August evening, I viewed the video of a school teacher in a school in Uttar  Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, ordering – provoking children of  her class to come up to the centre of the  classroom and slap and  beat a Muslim child! It seemed so very horrific and communal, that I felt unwell…no, couldn’t sleep the entire night as images of that hapless Muslim student stood out.

What agony-humiliation and mental and emotional and physical torture the child must have gone through. To be precise: must be going through. He and his entire family… In fact, his father’s statement which came soon after the video went viral, went along the strain that he doesn’t want to pursue the case against the teacher and school! Quite obviously, he would be worried and apprehensive of the  backlash and also there’d be immense pressure on him by the Hindutva groups and the political mafia to keep shut.

What strong action has been taken against the teacher, Tripti Tyagi, and also her male colleague, whose voice is coming through in the video though his face is not focused on. Shouldn’t this teacher and her male colleague get arrested and also dismissed from service. For,  if this  level  of communally  surcharged  teachers are around then they would  make  sure to cause  massive communal divides right  at the  junior school level. Instead of teaching ABCD, they are teaching violence and fascism and destructive tactics to young children.

And what are we doing to reach out to the emotionally battered- shattered Muslim child?  Where are the Child Rights forums and Commissions and the concerned Ministries to reach out to the poor child and his family?

Needless for me to focus on the fact that this incident will leave its imprint and carry off shoots. As it is, the Muslim community in the country is lagging on the education sphere and these shameful and ugly communal incidents will only add to this dismal reality!

The worst victim of communalism is the Muslim child

Together with the Saffron strains intruding into education, there’s been an ongoing shrinkage of space for the Muslim child in school and even out of it. The already dis-advantaged Muslim child is drifting away from the classroom, because of dismal conditions he faces in schools and also the ongoing vicious communally-surcharged atmosphere spreading around.

In the early 90s, Saiyid  Hamid, bureaucrat-educationist (former VC of AMU ) who had been heading the Hamdard  Education Society, told me that during his work on the dismal education scenario for  Muslims in North  India, he  stumbled upon a grim  fact:  In Bihar,  the areas  allocated to build schools for Muslim children were converted  into police- chowkies and  police-thanas! He  had detailed several other factors responsible for the Muslim child lagging behind on the education front…He had told me, “A prime reason is that  riots  after  riots push them away  from the  mainstream and each riot comes as a major setback  for the community and leads to  the feeling of  insecurity. Also, people who set the  curriculum in schools and  colleges  have  surreptitiously  introduced  material  derogatory  to  Islam and  this factor scares away the orthodox  from formal  learning  …the government  has not bothered  to set  up schools in or  near Muslim dominated areas .Instead, there are  police  posts! The majority  of  Muslims are artisans  and small shopkeepers  who are tempted to withdraw  their children early from school so that they can learn the trade  instead  of the  alphabet… But I would say that riots have a very adverse effect on the Muslim child; it affects him in many ways.”

From the early 90s, the situation stands worsened. There’s saffronisation of the very ABCD! Soon after the destruction of the Babri Masjid, I had  done a series of writings  focusing the fall-out of that destruction on school-level education. How communal bias hits the Muslim child, keeping him or her away from the school classroom. I had also been focusing on what was happening on the education scene: an increase in communal taunts heaped on the child by teachers and even fellow-students and also communal slants in the very teachings.

Many Gujarat pogrom survivors told me they stopped sending their children to school as there was fear of the Hindutva goons attacking their children, on the way to school. And I’d  heard similar worries and apprehensions from riot  survivors from  several other riot-affected  locales of the country. Hitting comments! Death of education for the children of the Muslim riot survivors!

The situation gets compounded in locales where Muslim families are forced to get uprooted and flee for their lives. In the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, entire Muslim families became refugees overnight …survivors stuffed in makeshift refugee camps. Mind you, till those  Muzaffarnagar  riots were ‘made to  happen,’ a majority  of the Muslim children were enrolled in their village schools, but then,  the  ‘riot  manufacturers’ saw to it that education was pulled off from the reach of the Muslims of that area.

Communal unleashes and polarized atmosphere affect the Muslim child in more than one way.  In these recent  years,  I have  been meeting Muslims narrating absolutely  horrifying details as to the why they  have had to  pull out their children  from schools – details ranging from shifting overnight from their ancestral homes and villages/mohalas/qasbahs, to getting threatening calls from the land and political mafia brigades, to seeking refuge in unknown terrain.

Also, one should not be under the impression that elitist public schools would be safe for the Muslim student. One report after another emerges of harassment faced by Muslim students by school teachers. One of the reported cases was of the  Kanpur teenaged student, Arsh Mohammad, who tried to kill himself after his school teachers not just taunted and ridiculed him in front of his fellow students but even ‘searched for a gun’ in his school bag! This happened on the premises of one of the branches of the Delhi Public School  (Kanpur).

Today, there are new forms of bullying of the Muslim children in schools if  they are not comfortable in singing Vande Mataram, doing  Surya Namaskar and reciting Gayatri Mantra.

Do we realize the  havoc created  on the  minority psyche as Muslim children are getting  taunted and humiliated by school teachers –  mind you, all this taking place in today’s developed India!

Well, such are the ground realities of the day! Can’t find adequate words and phrases and terms to describe these dark buildups.