The Dayanand Anglo Vedic group of schools on Tuesday issued a statement distancing itself from a controversial question in one of its examination papers that referred to farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws as “violent maniacs who act under external instigation”.

In a statement on the official website, the group said that the “specifically highlighted wordings of the question framed by a teacher do not reflect the institution”. The statement also noted that they received feedback from various sections, including parents, alumni, teachers and general public.

“Ours being a diverse country, it has not been surprising that the feedback has also been quite diverse – from expletive-laden hate messages to solemn support for the institution that has been providing high quality, value-based, affordable education over the last 50 years,” the statement read.

It further said that the school believed in the “need to nurture independent thinking amongst children” and in abiding by the “principle and ethos as enshrined in the Indian Constitution”.

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Statement by DAV group of schools

The controversy

In one of the questions for the Class 10 English Language and Literature paper for DAV Boys school in Gopalapuram in Chennai, the students were asked to write a letter to the editor of a daily newspaper in Chennai, condemning what it called, the “terrible, violence acts of miscreants who fail to realise that country comes before personal needs and gains”.

The question also used phrases like “diabolical violence” and “rampage” to describe the events that unfolded during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.

As the content of the question paper went viral on social media, political leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Harsimrat Kaur Badal and other eminent personalities like Carnatic singer TM Krishna spoke against the use of language to portray the farmers’ protest in front of students.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting for nearly three months against the new agricultural laws they say will leave them poorer and at the mercy of corporations. Their largely peaceful protests turned violent on Republic Day, when a section of of farmers riding tractors veered from the route earlier decided with police and stormed the Red Fort in a dramatic escalation. Over 300 police officers were injured and one protestor died. Scores of farmers were also injured but officials have not given their numbers.

While farmers distanced themselves from the violence, authorities used it as a reason to call for dismantling the protests. Since then, several farm leaders have been arrested and journalists covering the movement were booked on charges of sedition. The police have erected barricades and barbed wire and even planted spikes in concrete to stop demonstrating farmers from entering Delhi.