The district administration in Pilibhit town of Uttar Pradesh suspended the headmaster of a government school after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleged that the teacher made students recite a religious prayer, usually sung in madrasas, instead of the national anthem, IANS reported.

The VHP complained that Furqan Ali, 45, was teaching the children to sing Lab pe aati hai dua banke tamanna meri, a poem written by Allama Iqbal in 1902. This is the same poet who also wrote the song Sare jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara.

Following the complaint, Block Education Officer Upendra Kumar conducted an inquiry. The investigation revealed that the children of the primary school usually sang the poem during morning assembly. Pilibhit District Magistrate Vaibhav Srivastava said that the headmaster was suspended because he did not make students sing the national anthem.

“If the headmaster wanted to teach another poem also to the student, he should have sought permission,” Srivastava said. “If he makes students recite a poem and not the national anthem, then there is an offence against him.”

However, Ali denied the allegations. “Students regularly sing the national anthem and the poem by Iqbal is part of the Urdu syllabus for classes one to eight,” he said. “VHP and Hindu Yuva Vahini workers held protests outside the school and at the collectorate, demanding my removal. I only got a poem, which is part of the government school syllabus, sung.” Ali added that students also chant patriotic slogans like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

VHP district chief Ambarish Misra said he was against a madrasa prayer being sung at a government primary school. “We gave a written complaint to the BSA [Basic Shiksha Adhikari] demanding action against the headmaster,” he said.

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