The Gujarat government on Wednesday, 16 February, suspended a probationary youth development officer from Valsad district after an elocution competition – one of whose topics was, "My Role Model – Nathuram Godse" – was conducted for students of Classes 5-8 of several government and private schools, an official said, according to news agency PTI.
Mitaben Gavli, a probationary Class-2 District Youth Development Officer for the Valsad district, was suspended immediately after Minister of State for Sports, Youth, and Cultural Activities, Harsh Saghavi, assured action.
Sanghavi was quoted as saying, "I have ordered an inquiry into this incident. We will take action against the guilty."
The event was organised at Kusum Vidyalaya as part of a district-level Bal Pratibha Shodh Spardha (child talent search competition) under the Youth Service and Cultural Activities Department of the Gujarat government on Monday, The Indian Express reported.
The private school management, however, stated that it had only hosted the event and not organised it.
According to PTI, Archana Desai, the administrator of Kusum Vidhyalaya, said, "We had only provided our school premises to the department for organising this competition. Not just the subject, even the judges for the competition were selected by the Valsad district office."
Gavli's suspension order stated:
"In the district-level competition held on 14 February, school children were given three subjects to choose from. One of the subjects provided by Gavli was ‘My Role Model – Nathuram Godse’. The other two subjects were – ‘I like only those birds who fly in the sky’ and ‘I will become a scientist but will not go to the US [sic]."
When information was sought from the Valsad Primary Education Officer, BD Bariaya, he told the department that Gavli had selected these subjects and had written letters to primary schools to inform them about the upcoming elocution competition, the suspension letter stated.
It further added, "On 16 February, newspapers carried reports about the selection of such controversial subject for the competition. It appears that you have not taken due care in selecting subjects despite being a responsible government officer. Thus, in the interest of public and administrative interest, you are put under suspension with immediate effect [sic]."
Condemning the event which supposedly glorified Godse, who was executed in 1949 for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said in a tweet:
"In the minds of children in the name of oratory competition in Valsad (Gujarat), this lousy attempt to establish Godse as a hero and hatred towards Mahatma Gandhi is shameful. Enough is enough now, BJP government should stop glorifying Godse. Otherwise there will be a mass movement which will blow the BJP away [sic]."
According to The Indian Express, District Education Officer BD Baraiya said he was not aware of the incident. "We were not aware about such an event organized at Kusum Vidyalay, as it was planned and implemented by the district yuva vikas office. The yuva vikas office had on 8 February circulated a letter to all 25 government and private schools in the district and sought participation of students in different competitions to be held at Kusum Vidyalay on Tithal road in Valsad on 14 February. Even the judges were deputed from Yuva vikas office [sic]," Baraiya said.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and PTI.)
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