We're Like Mini India: Bidar School Which Hosted 'Seditious' Play
“Are they targeting us because its a minority institution?” Parents and Shaheen Group CEO about the sedition charge
Shaheen Urdu Primary School in Karnataka’s Bidar has found itself in the middle of a national controversy that is growing more problematic by the day. On Tuesday, 4 February, cops turned up for the fifth time in a week to investigate the charges of sedition against the school.
Being affiliated to a Muslim group, Shaheen Group of Institutions, has sparked concern among parents and staff that the school might be at the receiving end of prejudiced investigation. An FIR was registered after an ABVP member complained about a school play performance on 21 January, for ‘showing PM Modi in a bad light’.
However, school authorities said that almost 50% of students studying in the Bidar campus are not Muslim and that the school houses students from 23 states, calling it a ‘mini-India’.
“Are they targeting us because we are a minority institution?” asked Thouseef Madikeri, CEO of Shaheen Group of Institutions.
He also called the regular visits of the police “mental harassment” and said the daily workings of the Urdu-medium school were hampered, with exams around the corner in a month.
Here’s what you need to know about the school in the middle of controversy.
‘Like a Mini-India’
The Bidar premises comprise a higher secondary school and a degree college. While there are two schools – English-medium and Urdu-medium – the degree college is solely English medium.
Since the school is part-residential from Class 6-12, many of the students are living away from their families and together with students from 23 different states, school authorities said.
“We have 43 branches across India and will soon expand to 53. In Bidar also we have students from diverse backgrounds. It is like a mini-India, there are Jains, Sikhs and of course Hindus and Muslims. I would say there are about 45-50% percent students from other religions than Muslims,” he said.
In 2013, Shaheen Institution was also awarded the Rajyotsava award, Karnataka’s state honour for their work in the field of education.
Madikeri said that many of the students came from minority communities and belonged to impoverished families.
“Approximately 70% of the students are from marginalised communities, socio-politically and economically. They are from the SC/ST communities also,” he said, adding that the students mainly spoke Kannada and Urdu in the school.
The fees till Class 10 is about Rs 22,000 annually. Students in class 11 and 12 pay about Rs 48,000 and Rs 52,000 respectively, with college students paying a little less.
Known for Churning Out MBBS Students
Through an integrated programme for medical students, about 1,000 students have secured MBBS seats over the last four years, with 327 students getting a seat last year.
The school also claims to provide resources through an ‘Academic Intensive Care Unit’ where dropouts are brought into the school system and helped to finish their schooling.
“Our students have also gone on to study in many reputed institutions across the country like Jamia Milia, AMU and others,” Madikeri said.
The CEO also said that the school had written and offered support to help educate the children of the CRPF personnel who lost their lives in the Pulwama attack and that their proposal was under consideration. “We wrote to them offering students of martyrs, they asked us to accommodate all such kids, we said yes,” Madikeri said.
Parents Speak Highly of Shaheen
A parent who did not wish to be identified said that the school was likely being targeted as it was a Muslim-affiliated institution.
“The founder Dr Abdul Qadeer is such a good man. He has helped many poor people educate their children. The school used to run so well, with no problems,” he said.
He added that the school was also engaged in philanthropic work and was known for the number of medical students it produced.
“Everyone knows Shaheen school in Bidar, many families send their kids here but still the police is behaving as they like. Without any evidence, they are harassing students. What will they know, they are only kids,” he said.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.