The Gujarat government on Wednesday suspended a probationary youth development officer for organising an elocution competition for school students on the topic “my ideal Nathuram Godse”, PTI reported.
Godse had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948 and was executed for it in November the next year.
Mitaben Gavli, the probationary Class-2 district youth development officer in Valsad, was suspended after Home Minister Harsh Saghavi assured action against him.
This matter came to light on Wednesday after local newspapers in Valsad district reported on the results of the elocution competition. The suspension order was issued within hours, according to PTI.
The order stated that in the event held on Monday, schools students had been asked to speak on one out of three topics. Besides the topic on Godse, the other two were: “I like only those birds who fly in the sky” and “I will become a scientist but will not go to the US [United States]”.
“On February 16, newspapers carried reports about the selection of such controversial subject for the competition,” the letter said. “It appears that you have not taken due care in selecting subjects despite being a responsible government officer. Thus, in the interest of public and administrative interest, you are put under suspension with immediate effect.”
The event was organised at a self-financed school, Kusum Vidyalaya, as part of the district level “Bal pratibha shodh spardha” (child talent search competition), reported The Indian Express. It was held under an initiative of the state government’s youth service and cultural activities department.
The school authorities said they had only hosted the event and did not organise it.
“We had only provided our school premises to the department for organising this competition,” said Archana Desai, administrator of Kusum Vidhyalaya. “Not just the subject, even judges for the competition were selected by the Valsad district office.”
Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi condemned the incident saying that “in new India, murderers are heroes”. Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi described the matter as “shocking”. He said the incident raises “many questions about procedure and propriety”.
Another Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia wrote on Twitter that the “lousy attempt” to establish Godse as a hero and create hatred towards Mahatma Gandhi was “shameful”.
“Enough is enough now, the Gujarat BJP unit should stop glorifying Godse,” he tweeted. “Otherwise there will be a mass movement which will blow the BJP away.”