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MP school hijab row: HC grants bail to 3, says ‘students not to be forced to wear headscarves’

Bhopal, Aug 31: Madhya Pradesh High Court has granted bail to the administrators of Damod-based private school, and said that the “applicants shall not prevent (students) from wearing the essentials of their own religion”.

In May this year, a controversy erupted after the Ganga Jamuna Higher Secondary School in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district put up a poster on the premises of students who topped in Classes 10 and 12 state board exams.

In the poster, all female students were seen wearing headscarves, though five of them were not Muslim. A group of activities associated with the right wing Bajrang Dal then staged a protest inside the school and had recited ‘Hanuman Chalisa’.

The issue created a political storm in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and the ruling BJP demanded a strict action against the school administration. Subsequently, the recognition of the school was also cancelled by the state government.

An FIR was registered on May 31 and a total 11 members, including the school principal, were booked for allegedly forcing girl students to wear headscarves under Sections of the IPC and Juvenile Justice Act, and they all were arrested.

On Wednesday, hearing the bail application, the high court released committee members Asfa Sheikh, Anas Athar and Rustom Ali on a personal bond of Rs 50,000, with a warning that, “applicants shall not repeat commission of offence in which they are being released on bail.”

The court has said, “They shall not prevent from wearing the essentials of their own religion such as wearing a sacred thread (kalawa) and putting tilak on the forehead. They shall not compel the students of other religions to read/study any material or language which has not been prescribed or approved by the Madhya Pradesh Education Board.”

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