Topper and CM scholarship recipient, 22 in namaz video says he’s not scared, he’s done nothing wrong

On March 25, a friend rushed to her to tell her of the “viral video” – filmed hours earlier, the 22-year-old was offering a namaz in an empty room at Dr. Harisingh Gaur at Sagar district in Madhya Pradesh. The video, shot in secret and in total violation of her privacy, angered her but she was not afraid. “Why should I be afraid? I was convinced that I had done nothing wrong,” she said.

That day, as right-wing social media began to stir, with Hindu Jagran Manch issuing a written complaint to university officials demanding action against her, the university set up a commission to six-member internal investigation. The university later released a statement saying it had said it was “unaware of the requirement to refrain from practicing religion in the department building.”

Now back home in Damoh, the woman, who hopes to become a teacher and is in her final semester of BSc-BEd – an integrated four-year course offered by the university’s Department of Education – is preparing for her exams finals which are to come soon. Her family and teachers say she has always been among the best.

In the joint entrance test recently organized by the Professional Examination Board (PEB) for recruitment as a graduate trained teacher (TGT), she finished at the top of her class with 127 points out of 150.

She is also among six deserving students who have been selected by the university for a teaching internship at the government-run Kendriya Vidyalaya in Sagar Cantonment. Having obtained 86% in class 10 and 85% in class 12, she had also been awarded 25,000 rupees under the CM scholarship program for deserving students.

The woman’s father, 50, who lives with his wife, son and the 22-year-old in Damoh’s Hatta tehsil, says despite his middle-class background, he enrolled his daughter in public school Bundelkhand – then the only private English-medium school in Hatta.

“It didn’t matter that we ate less on a certain day, but I made sure I never delayed paying her school fees. She has always been a deserving student. Throughout school and college, whenever we walked into her classroom for parent-teacher meetings, we would look for her name on the board because she was always among the row holders,” he says proudly, adding: “She got 93% in class 11, but her class 12 percentage dropped because she had to have surgery on her elbow.

Recalling the day she was filmed offering him her namaz, the 22-year-old says the department was holding elections for class representatives for the student council – she was one of five candidates in the melee. One of his professors said that since the pandemic disrupted last year’s student union elections, they were held this year, although the academic session is coming to an end.

The woman says that since joining the university in 2018, she regularly did her namaz, which her classmates and faculty were aware of, but no one had ever raised an objection.

“When we registered here, we received a detailed orientation on the rules governing the institute. No one told us that offering prayers while in the department or university was not allowed. And anyway, no one had a problem,” she says. “But that day, because of the elections, students from all groups were jostling.”

The next day, as newspapers and TV stations reported the video and the Hindu Jagran Manch’s request for action against her, the inspector from a local police station called her to ask if she had need protection – a group of over 50 members associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Jagran Manch had descended on campus and started chanting Hanuman Chalisa.

“My daughter called me and told me all this. I told her not to be afraid and that she should stay at the hostel. She only offered her prayers. What’s wrong? “, explains the father of the woman, adding:” Unlike me and my wife, my daughter is very punctual and does her namaz five times a day. »

As right-wing groups descended on campus, on March 26 the university issued a notice “prohibiting religious activities or activities that promote communal tension” on university premises. He further advised students who wished to pursue their religious activities to do so in the privacy of their homes or in places of worship.

When asked if students were prohibited from praying or engaging in other religious activities, Vivek Jaiswal, the university’s media officer, said: “No university per se broadcasts such notification prohibiting religious practices. It was issued at the university under special circumstances…Students are permitted to practice their religious practice in their homes, but are advised to refrain from doing so during class in the department building.

A member of the commission of inquiry set up by the university pointed out to The Indian Express that secretly filming a video of the student is a cybercrime in itself. “We asked the student if she wanted to file an FIR, but she declined to pursue the matter,” the member said.

Her father says they didn’t want to pursue the case as there were also careers and reputations at stake on the other side. “Just as I sent my daughter there to study, the student who made the video was also sent there to study. We don’t want to punish the student’s family for their mistakes. Hum maaf karke aage badhne mein vishwas rakhte hai (We believe in forgiveness and progression).

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