Kazi Masum Akhtar was earlier assaulted and now he’s been banned from the Ara madrassa in the Metiabruz area of West Bengal that he was headmaster of. His crime? Getting students to sing the national anthem on Republic Day and promoting education among girls.
Akhtar, who was the headmaster of the government-aided madrassa, has now been banned from entering the premises of the institution, reported the New Indian Express.
But Akhtar’s struggle against the radical elements in the area has been on for close to a year now.
In March 2015, the headmaster was brutally assaulted with iron rods by a group of people which left him with a fractured skull. A FIR was also filed against him, for hurting religious sentiments.
After the assault came objections against him entering the premises of the school and a diktat which demanded Akhtar grow a beard and turn up in”traditional attire” for him to be allowed to enter the educational institution.
Akhtar is also a columnist, and writes for publications like Bartaman and the Dainik Statesman. His critics say these columns provoked the local community.
However, the real reason for his plight is said to be his columns on Islam, trying to bring in progressive educational reforms, introducing the national anthem in the institute and opposing the early marriage of girls.
Akhtar has appealed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the state’s governor and other authorities for justice. But the West Bengal police earlier ruled out Akhtar being able to return to the school due to the threat to his life, and said it would not be able to protect him.
The headmaster has since been registering his attendance in a office in Kolkata but hasn’t been able to return to work since he hasn’t been assigned any other institution by the West Bengal government.
“The fight is between true Islamists and the distorted ones. I am not anti-Islam. But my free thinking is not accepted by fundamentalist Muslims who are doing a great harm to the religion,” Akhtar had said in an earlier interview.
The persecution of Kazi Masum Akhtar over the introduction of the national anthem in prayers, interestingly came even as several madrassas in India hoisted the tricolour on Independence Day to instil patriotism among students.
But there’s no sign of justice being delivered to this brave teacher any time soon. With a ban now being imposed on him, his path to returning to his job seems almost impossible presently.
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