On 14th July 2023, a Hindu student studying in a private school in Bhilwara City, Rajasthan, faced unnecessary disciplinary action and physical punishment for applying a tilak on his forehead. The news quickly reached the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Vidyarthi Parishad, leading to a robust protest organised by members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) outside the school. The fervent demonstration resulted in the school principal issuing an apology, effectively resolving the situation and restoring calm.
The incident took place at St. Anselm School in Bhilwara, involving Kishan Mali, a student enrolled at the school. Prior to attending school, Kishan performed a puja at home and adorned his forehead with a tilak. However, it is alleged that upon arriving at school, the student faced physical punishment from the school administration due to his tilak. Disturbed by the incident, Kishan returned home and shared the ordeal with his family members. Learning about the situation, Kishan’s family members promptly arrived at the school, coinciding with the arrival of Hindu organisations who were also informed of the incident. The collective response resulted in a commotion outside the school premises as the protesters expressed their discontent.
Kishan Mali has made allegations regarding the incident, stating, “I arrived at school putting up a tilak on my forehead, along with some of my friends who also had tilaks. It was the first time we had applied tilak because it was previously not allowed in our school. Students were afraid to apply tilak before. I had been applying tilak for the past two to three days. Yesterday, the principal caught me and questioned why I was putting up a tilak. The principal asked all the students who is making them apply tilak on the forehead, and everyone pointed out my name. The principal then proceeded to slap me 5-6 times and instructed me to stand outside his office after the lunch break.”
He added, “My father was called and told to immediately collect my transfer certificate. My father said ‘My son did not commit such a big crime. He has come only with tilak.’ I also said that I will come tomorrow with a tilak on my forehead again. Even this morning, when I came to school, I came with tilak. Now after the uproar, the Father (principal of the school) has apologised.”
Kishan’s father Deepak Mali alleged, “My son studies in St. Anselm’s School. Yesterday, when my son came to the school with a tilak on his forehead, the principal beat him. Then he called me to school, and as soon as I came here, he said that you take the child’s TC. I said how do I take TC like this. You have not given any reason. So he said that the reason is the tilak. Tilak is not allowed in our school. My child doesn’t agree with it. He is fasting on the days of the Hindu month Shravan. He said ‘I won’t go to school without Tilak. I can quit studying.’ Today, when my son came back with tilak, the school principal called me. There was a lot of pressure on me to take the TC.”
Father FRP Santaclaus, principal of St. Anselm School, said, “There is no such incident. We have apologised. There is no problem now. I have apologised for hurting their sentiments.”
Shubham Sharma, an office-bearer of the ABVP, said, “The principal has apologised for the incident. We have warned that if any such incident takes place in the school in the future, then the school will be closed forever.”
This is not the first time that Hindu students have faced religious discrimination in convent schools run by Christian missionaries. On Monday, 10th July 2023, a student of standard 10 committed suicide after she was slapped, humiliated and expelled from St. Xavier’s School for sporting a bindi. The incident took place in the Teltulmari neighbourhood in the Dhanbad city of Jharkhand.
The 17-year-old reportedly went to the convent school, wearing a bindi on her forehead. Identified as Usha Kumari, she was humiliated by a teacher during the school assembly. She was also slapped twice in full public display. This was even though the student removed the bindi as soon as she saw the teacher. The underage girl was taken to the principal’s office, who expelled her from the school.