Indian police have arrested the manager of a private school on charges of insulting the national anthem after he allegedly barred staff from singing it on the premises, officials said Monday.
Zia ul Haq was taken into custody after several staff, including the school principal, resigned over his refusal to let them sing the anthem on the eve of Independence day celebrations at M A Convent School in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh state.
“The guilty has been sent to jail under relevant laws for insulting the national anthem and flaring up communal sentiments,” said Vijay Yadav, local deputy inspector general of police.
Media reports said Haq believed certain words in the national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana,” written by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, were un-Islamic.
Muslim groups have already caused controversy by objecting to “Vande Mataram” – India’s national song – which they say is against their faith because it encourages people to worship the country rather than God alone.
“The administration has taken a serious note of this and we’ve already taken action against those involved,” said Andra Vamsi, a senior civil officer in Allahabad.
Authorities are also mulling whether to shut down the school after a probe found it was functioning without a license.
India celebrates its 70th Independence day to commemorate the end of British rule on August 15, when institutions across the country will hoist the national flag and sing the national anthem.
Many incidents of people being heckled by vigilantes for not standing up for the national anthem have been reported in recent months.
In January, a theatre director was pushed out of a cinema in Mumbai for sitting while the it was played on the screen. -AFP