Protest against hijab-clad students at Varachha school, 12 VHP activists detained

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Twelve members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) who tried to stop Muslim girls wearing hijab and burqa from taking a state board competitive examination at a trust-run school were detained in Surat Tuesday.
The incident happened at Varachha’s PP Sawani School, a center for the Talent Search Test 2022 conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB).
On Tuesday, around six Muslim girl students clad in hijab and burqa were at PP Sawani School in the Hirabaug area to attend the first paper when some people allegedly shot videos of the girls and circulated them on social media.
Later, VHP members reached the center to protest but were stopped by the security guards. Soon, police rushed to the spot and detained 12 activists, including VHP Surat city general secretary Kamlesh Kayda.

Those detained were taken to the Kapodara police station and released later in the evening. The cops also talked to the school authorities and a team was deployed at the school premises to control any untoward incident. “There were several VHP leaders protesting saying Muslim girl students should not be allowed to take such exams. The VHP leaders were trying to enter the school premises to meet the principal but before they could enter, our team reached the spot and detained 12. Those detained include Kayda, Nilesh Akbari (Surat VHP vice-president), and Dipak Katodiya (Bhagwa Army Sangathan vice-president),” said CK Patel, Assistant Commissioner of Police, A Division.

The Prakharta Shodh Kasoti 2022 (Talent Search Test) for Class 9 students was organized at 28 centers in Surat Tuesday. Pritesh Mistry, Surat Zonal Officer for TST 2022 and an assistant education inspector at the Surat District Education office (DEO), said the girls were from the Madrasa Islamiya High School of Mota Varachha. “Out of over 7,500 students who had registered for TST 2022 exams, a total of 6,966 students appeared. The exams were conducted peacefully at all the centers. We reached the school after learning about the issue,” he said, adding, “The girls were not aware of the incident. They learned about it only after they finished the exams and came out of the school campus.”
Incidentally, PP Sawani School is run by Mahesh Sawani who recently quit the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Sawani, who is one of the trustees, also reached the school, after learning about the incident and took stock of the situation. He told The Indian Express, “Many students from different schools had come (to PP Sawani School) for TST 2022 exams this morning as it was one of the centers. There is no dress code or school uniform compulsory for such exams. We allowed them (the girl students) to appear for the exams. After the issue was raised by some people, we explained to them that this was not a school exam; so, we cannot compel the students to wear uniforms. After the issue was brought under control by police, I called up the parents of all the six Muslim girl students and assured them not to worry as their safety is the school’s responsibility and that nothing would happen to them.”

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