11/06/2004, 00.00
INDIA
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End to religious discrimination in Gujarat school

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Students at the S J Dave High School in Shehra, near Godhra (Gujarat), will soon start wearing the same badge without religious distinction. For the last five years, they had badges bearing different logos, each representing a different religious community. The Hindu badge bore the sign of the Hindu goddess Saraswati; the Muslim badge had a star.

District education authorities told the S J Dave School Board that having distinctive badges was discriminatory on the basis of religion. They ordered that "a common logo now be compulsory".

Both the School trustees and the student population are divided between Hindus and Muslims. About 40 per cent of the 700 students are minority Muslims. No Christians attend the school.

The decision to have distinctive badges had been criticised when it was originally taken. Several school trustees thought then that it was unconstitutional because "every student has to be treated equally."

Relations between the communities in Gujarat remain delicate. Currently, those charged with the March 1, 2002, Best Bakery massacre in Vadodara are on trial. This incident saw 14 people die burnt alive. It was one of a series of violent episodes in the state in 2002 in which Muslims and Hindus clashed causing the death of more than 2000 people, mostly Muslims. (NC)

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