Posts mislead on Delhi school refund scheme for minority students

·2 min read

In Hindu-majority India, social media posts have been shared hundreds of times claiming a government circular says “only Muslim students” are entitled to a fee refund in New Delhi's private schools. This is misleading: the text of the circular states the scheme applies to minorities studying in private schools. The city’s minority commission and a researcher told AFP that private school students from many different groups -- not just Muslims -- are eligible for the programme.

The misleading claim was shared on Facebook on May 17.

The post features a screenshot of a government circular issued May 12 that asks private school heads in Delhi to verify the applications of students that are eligible for fee refunds.

The circular indicates that “minority students” -- not just Muslims -- are eligible.

But the Hindi-language caption of the post translates in part as: “Arvind Kejriwal's dictatorial decree, in all private schools of Delhi, only Muslim students' fees for two years will be returned.”

Kejriwal is the chief minister of Delhi and head of the Aam Aadmi Party, which is the ruling party in the capital.

The party forms a political opposition to India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on May 22, 2022 ( AFP)

Similar claims were shared over 600 times on Facebook here and here and on Twitter here and here.

Comments on the posts suggest social media users believed the programme only applied to Muslim students.

"Arvind Kejriwal only wants the welfare of the Muslims, others should beg under his rule," one wrote.

“So much love for Muslims? Aren't others poor?” said another.

'Not true'

But the claim is misleading.

Professor Azra Razzak, a researcher at the Dr K.R. Narayanan's Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies told AFP "this scheme is for all minorities”.

“This claim is not true that this policy of the Delhi government is only for Muslims," he said.

Zakir Khan, chair of Delhi’s minority commission, told AFP: “The tuition fees reimbursement is applicable for Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Parsi and Jain students and the SC, ST and OBC communities studying in private schools”.

Khan was referring to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class, which are among the lowest categories in India's caste system.

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