A purported e-mail sent by New Horizon Public School (NHPS) in Bengaluru asking its alumni to change the name of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque to ‘Gyanvapi temple’ on Google Maps has sparked a controversy in Karnataka, with the institute issuing a clarification that it was sent “without proper screening procedures, that is required of all our e-mail communications”.
On Friday evening, an e-mail titled ‘Gyanvapi temple instead of Gyanvapi mosque’, was sent from the school’s official e-mail address to the school’s alumni. The e-mail contained a list of directions the alumni were asked to follow to change the name of the Gyanvapi mosque on Google Maps. The mail comes at a time when there is a heated controversy and an ongoing court case surrounding the mosque.
“We are an institution that embraces diversity and fosters a safe and inclusive environment for our students. That said, reports of the e-mail sent out about disrespecting certain religious sentiments have come to our notice. The issue is being handled with the highest priority,” the statement issued on the school’s official Twitter account on Tuesday read.
“We take pride in the cultural and religious diversity of India, we practice the same in letter and spirit every day with everything that we do at our school,” the statement added. The school is, however, yet to file a formal complaint in the matter.
Alumni officer Vasanthi SR acknowledged the controversy by saying the matter is being investigated.
“Please update on Google map as a Gyanvapi Temple instead of gyanvapi mosque. You are requested to do it and ask our Hindu brothers and sisters to do it till google update this changes. Please open the google map. Search for Gyanvapi Temple but you will see it as gyanvapi mosque. Touch on/Click on – Suggest edit. Touch on – Change the name or other details. write as “Gyanvapi Temple” and mention as “Hindu Temple”. submit it,” the mail read.
The school alleged that on Saturday someone had hacked into the details of parents and other stakeholders from the school’s online database. An official said a complaint was also lodged with the Kothanur police station.
However, the police denied this claim and said the complaint was about an unauthorised WhatsApp group and not the e-mail. “We do not have any complaints about the school data being hacked,” said a station official.
The e-mail had led to an outrage among the alumni of the school, who took to Twitter to express their displeasure.
Suraj Sudarshan, an alumni member, wrote on Twitter: “@NhpsOfficial, are you so insecure about your religion that even a Google map threatens you? As a school, you should be promoting secularism! You should not be sending out insensitive e-mails like this!”
Many alumni had come down heavily on using the educational institution as a platform for political activity, especially divisive communal politics. “…This email shows a turn into hard Hindutva that’s unsafe for all,” tweeted independent journalist Rohini Mohan, also an alumnus of the school.
Before the e-mail controversy, the New Horizon Educational Institute had rolled out a memo in March this year, informing all its students that it is organising tickets for the movie The Kashmir Files “for all students and staff members,” which was attended by staff members and some students.
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