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Former Students of Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Oppose Amit Shah's Visit

Alumni reminded the school management that Shah's politics do not align with the values advocated by Sardar Patel.
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Image Courtesy:  PTI

Alums of the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (SPV) in Delhi have written to the school management, protesting the latter's decision to call Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the school to commemorate Vallabhbhai Patel's 147th birth anniversary.

Signed by around 237 former students of the school, the letter, addressed to principal Anuradha Joshi and the Gujarat Education Society that operates SPV, said, "Particularly in the current climate of polarisation, inviting a political figure of his ilk will make the school vulnerable to criticism and will undermine its ethos, that stands for the Constitution and pluralism. This current climate of hate and violence spewing through the country has been responsible for the flagrant disregard of constitutional values."

Alumni reminded the school management about how the school has always encouraged questioning, democratic ideals of dissent, argument, and debate.

"We write to you from this place of warmth and the unwavering commitment to democracy that the school has imparted to us," it said.

Moreover, the former students also highlighted how Shah, who is associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and his politics do not align with the values advocated by Patel.

"Despite attempts by the BJP to appropriate Patel in recent years, it would be prudent to remember that he had banned the RSS in 1948 after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination while he was the Home Minister. In a communique issued on February 4, 1948, the Government of India had said it was banning the organisation to 'root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation.' It also said that 'undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh' and that several RSS members' indulged in acts of violence."

At the time, the Government of India had blamed RSS for sponsoring and inspiring a cult of violence that claimed many victims, including Gandhi.

The letter further went on to cite examples of RSS leaders publicly calling for imposing Hindu Rajya by force.

"It is abundantly clear from the above examples that the politics of the current ruling party represented by Amit Shah is at complete variance with the ideology of Sardar Patel and therefore goes against the very ethos of what this school and this country stand for. Our Vidyalaya has taught us to respect diversity as we were encouraged to celebrate all festivals during morning assemblies, develop a curiosity for difference, and the ability to learn from it."

The school's alums include a number of celebrities, social activists, and famous people, such as Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadha, and Ajay Jadeja.

Actress Sarah Hashmi, who signed the letter, said the signatures were collected in only three hours as they learned about the programme.

"Our school stands for the values of Sardar Patel and not hatred and communalism. Amit Shah has repeatedly shown that he stands for those ideas… The release of the Bilkis Bano case convicts happened under the supervision of the home ministry, Shah, and PM Modi," Hashmi told The Telegraph.

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