This Hindu-run Gujarat school presents a picture of harmony

(From the archives: This article appeared in India Today in 2004)

Each day at the Shantiniketan School starts with the Saraswati Vandana. When painting competitions are held in the school, images of Hindu gods and goddesses are most common. And Sanskrit is a favourite subject of many a student. Nothing new about it except that the 1,200-odd students studying in the Hindu-run school are Muslim.

In 1983, when Ranchodbhai Kiri started Shantiniketan in the all-Muslim Juhapura area of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, only 20 per cent of the students were Muslims. But when riots involving the Muslims of Juhapura and the Hindus of nearby Jivrajpark-Vejalpur affected the locality, Hindus started migrating. Today, all the students are Muslim and the school is an unparalleled example of harmony. In the 2002 riots, when a section of inflamed Muslims wanted the school closed, the parents of the students stood like a wall behind it.

Significantly, the only Muslim teacher in the 40-member teaching staff, Husena Mansuri, teaches Sanskrit. In fact, she is so happy at the school that she recently declined the principalship of another Muslim-run school.

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