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Published in the 16-28 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Hindu-run school an unique example of communal harmony 

The Milli Gazette Online

New Delhi: There is a school in communally volatile Ahmedabad which has provided an island of communal harmony. The Shantiniketan school run by Hindus has 1,200-odd students mostly Muslims. In 1983, when Ranchodbhai Kiri started the school in the Muslim dominated Juhapura area, only 20 per cent of the students were Muslims. But when riots involving the Muslims of Juhapura and the Hindus of nearby Jivrajpark-Vejalpura affected the locality, Hindus started migrating from Juhapura. Today, nearly all the students are Muslims and the school is an unparalleled example of communal harmony. In the 2002 riots, when a section of Muslims wanted the closure of school, the parents of the students vehemently opposed them.

Vipulbhai Kiri, Ranchodbhai’s son and Shantiniketan’s principal said that they never thought of moving the school out of the area because of the love and affection of the local Muslims. They value the high standard of education set by them. Such is the reputation of the school that some of the local Muslims accused of involvement in communal riots are willing to protect the school during riots.

The only Muslim teacher in the 40-member teaching staff, Husena Mansuri teaches Sanskrit. She is so happy with his present job that she recently declined the principalship of another school run by Muslims.

The school recently organised a painting competition. Some of the paintings were moving. One of the students had drawn a picture of Bharat Mata with a mosque and temple, another student portrayed a boy tying rakhi to his sister. 

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