PATNA: An assault on a Muslim schoolteacher in Bihar for refusing to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ snowballed into a political row on Thursday with the ruling BJP targeting the Opposition on patriotism and Congress asking BJP leaders to sing the national song every morning and evening.
Afzal Hussain, the in-charge headmaster of a primary school in Katihar district, was mildly assaulted by some local people during a flag hoisting programme at the school at Abdullapur village on Republic Day. After a video clip of the incident went viral, Bihar education minister Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma ordered an inquiry on Thursday.
Katihar:Scuffle broke out when a primary school teacher Afzal Hussain refused to sing 'Vande Mataram' on Jan 26;Hussain says,"We worship Allah & Vande Mataram means 'vandana'(worship) of Bharat which is against our belief.Constitution doesn't say it's necessary to sing it".#Bihar pic.twitter.com/JjyEWpGRGt— ANI (@ANI) February 7, 2019
“When I gently declined to sing the song, a few local people present at the school assaulted me and tried to force me to sing it in front of them. I did not sing the song because Islam prohibits idol worship,” said Hussain.
“But I am just as patriotic as any other Indian. I sing all other patriotic songs and the national anthem,” he added. BJP state president Nityanand Rai said his party condemns anyone refusing to sing the national song.
“This is a serious matter. We condemn it. Such a situation has arisen because leaders like Tejashwi Yadav (RJD) are sharing the dais with people like Kanhaiya Kumar, who advocated ripping India into bits,” said Rai.
“These people now say India belongs to nobody’s father. But BJP believes that India belongs to everyone’s father and also everyone’s sons. Tejashwi should take this issue seriously. India is the father of Pakistan,” said Rai.
Congress and RJD leaders accused BJP of unfairly using the issue for political gains. Nobody should be coerced into performing any particular way of displaying their love for the nation, they said. “BJP leaders are busy displaying their fake patriotism.
They had no role in the freedom movement. A rule should be made for every BJP leader and supporter to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ every morning and evening and share videos of the singing,” said senior Congress leader and MLC Prem Chandra Mishra. JD(U), Bihar’s main ruling party, differed from its ally BJP’s views.
“While ‘Vande Mataram’ holds a special space in Indians’ hearts, there is no need to force anyone to sing this song to prove their patriotism,” said JD(U) spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan.