The Candid Eye

January 8, 2010

Principal of Convent School chops off Hindu student’s pigtail!

The principal of a convent school cut off the tuft of hair (shendi) of a 14-year-old Brahmin student on Tuesday, allegedly because it violated the school’s dress code.The boy’s irate parents have registered an FIR against the principal – Father Frank Fernandes of St Jude’s High School, Sakinaka – for allegedly beating up their son and hurting their religious sentiments.

Pravesh Dubey, a Std VIII student, had been growing the tuft since he was a year old, as it was of religious significance. He was to grow it until he turned 15 and cut it only after a religious ceremony in April at Vindhyavasini temple in Uttar Pradesh.

Pravesh Dubey and the 8-inch tuft of hair that was cut off

Pravesh Dubey and the 8-inch tuft of hair that was cut off

But on Tuesday, he did not anticipate its fate. “I had gone to the principal’s cabin to collect my fees calendar. He was furious to see that I had not cut my hair. He asked me to turn my back towards him, and took out a pair of scissors from his drawer. I pleaded with him, but he beat me up and snipped off my tuft. When he was about to throw it into the dustbin, I asked him to give it to me,” recalled Pravesh.

School authorities say they had given the boy several warnings. “We have been warning the boy and his parents to cut the tuft of hair. According to the school’s dress code, students can neither have long hair nor can they grow such tufts,” said a representative of the school management.

The boy’s parents allege that the principal took the step despite their request to excuse their son up to April. “My son was not growing his hair for fashion. We were supposed to cut it off according to our rituals. We had requested Father Fernandes to excuse us up to April,” said Umadevi Dubey, Pravesh’s mother.

Pravesh and his parents at the Sakinaka Police Station on Tuesday

Meanwhile, activists from Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena staged a protest against the school management.Narshingh Sherkhane, ACP of Sakinaka division, said, “We have taken the statements of the boy and his parents. We have called the principal to record his statement. An FIR has been registered, and we will interrogate witnesses at the school and also the boy’s classmates.”

Following the FIR, Father Fernandes was booked under Sections 295 (A) (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. The police are also doing a panchnama of the severed tuft of hair, and trying to match it with hair on Pravesh’s head.

Father Fernandes remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.

“I agree that there are dress codes and rules set up by the school. But we would not touch anything that has religious significance to someone. The principal could have taken this step, had the tuft of hair been kept for fashion’s sake. In this case, the principal is wrong,” said Father Gregory Lobo, secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs 150 Catholic schools in Mumbai.

Source:Mumbai Mirror

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