Surya Namaskar Order Triggers Controversy


SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir government order asking faculty and students of all colleges to perform Surya Namaskar on the occasion of Makar Sankranti has triggered a controversy

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An order issued by the higher education department reads, “To mark the holy occasion of ‘Makar Sankranthi’ on January 14, the Government of India (GoI) has desired a large scale virtual ‘surya namaskar’ under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Celebrations. Kindly ensure that all faculty members and students actively participate in this programme.”

Reacting to the order, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said, “GOIs PR misadventures aim to demean and collectively humiliate Kashmiris. Forcing students & staff to perform ‘surya namaskars’ by issuing orders despite their obvious discomfort with imposition of something laden with religious connotations gives an insight into their communal mindset.

In a tweet National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said, “Why should Muslim students be forced to do anything, including yoga, to celebrate ‘Makar Sankranti’? ‘Makar Sankranti’ is a festival and to celebrate it or not must be a personal choice. Would the BJP be happy if a similar order was issued to order non-Muslim students to celebrate Eid?”

Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone said he wished the government of the day understood that “along many bloody battles fought in Kashmir, of immense importance was the war between liberal and radicals”.

“How your actions [will] undo all that the liberals had earned. The liberals fought to keep the secular liberal traditions of Kashmir alive. They fought the violence. They fought the bullets. The liberals rendered sacrifices. And with these Surya Namaskars, you are emulating the radicals,” Lone said.

Apni Party President Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari also took a strong exception to a recent government order directing academic institutions to organize virtual programs for ‘Surya Namaskar’ on the eve of Makar Sankranti.

In a statement, Bukhari said the educational institutions must be kept aloof from political maneuvering and emphasis should be laid on providing quality education to the students.

“Celebrating festivals is an individual choice and the state has no right to interfere in it. However, this recent edict for observing Surya Namaskar in colleges across J&K is undoubtedly a dangerous enterprise that carries serious implications. The administration must stop communalising the academic atmosphere and should rather focus on the upgradation of these educational facilities,” he said.

Bukhari said the constitution of India allows every person to follow his/her own religious, spiritual belief and the government is not mandated under law to superimpose the beliefs of any ruling party on the citizens, especially the students.

“It is my request to the government to stress more on initiating developmental works in J&K and curb the looming menace of Covid-19 third wave rather than pretending to be clergy while determining what the people should believe in, that too in the schools and colleges,” he said.

Bukhari asked the government to withdraw this controversial order and desist from issuing such arbitrary diktats in future. He said that the government must rather ensure the autonomy of educational institutions and facilitate their smooth functioning in an absolute independent atmosphere.

Muttahida  Majlis-e-Ulema( MMU), the amalgam of religious organisations in J&K , said that it has taken strong exception to the Government order asking students , faculty members and staff of all colleges in J&K to compulsorily participate in the Hindu religious practice of ‘surya namaskar ‘ on a religious festival being observed today.

MMU in a statement said that the authorities are well aware that J&K is a Muslim majority state , and Muslims will not- like people of other religions won’t , participate in religious practices of other religions. To deliberately force them to do so by issuing directives is mischievous.

MMU said that the rulers should be clear that this is completely unacceptable to the Muslims of the state who will never yield to such highhandedness. It said that Muslims of J&K are respectful of all religions and believe in harmonious coexistence but will never yield to any pressure , if and when there is any interference in matters related to their faith .

MMU said that it is quite sad and tells about the sorry state of affairs pervading India , that while the religious practice of one religion gets promoted and imposed in the name of peace, that of the other gets banned and barred in the name of threat ;referring to the repeated lockdown by authorities of the central Jamia Masjid Srinagar where obligatory Friday prayers are not allowed for months now . And the disruptions caused to Friday prayers in Gurgaon by goons having a free run .  The recent open call to genocide of Muslims of India by a religious conference in Haridwar  and the silence of the state in this regard is a shocking case of bigotedness and discrimination against Muslims which has become the order of the day in today’s India.

MMU said that Muslims of J&K at no cost are not going to give in to the diktats of the Government -despite all power that the state may command , when it comes to matters of their religious faith .

“It asked the Government to desist in future from issuing such orders,” reads the statement.

The organisations which are part of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema include Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid, Darul Uloom Raheemiyah , Jamaith Ahli Hadees , Mufti Azam’s Muslim Personal Law Board Anjuman-e-Shari’a Shiaan, Karwani Islami, Ittihadul Muslimeen, Darul Uloom Bilalia, Anjuman Tableegul Islam, Anjuman Himayaul Islam, Anjuman Nusratul Islam, Anjuman Mazharul Haq, Jamiat ul Aima Wa Ulema, Anjuman Imam Wa Mashaikh Kashmir, Darul Uloom Naqshbandia, Darul Uloom Rasheediya, Ahlul Bayt Foundation, Madrasa Kanz Ul Uloom, Pervaan-e-Wilayat, Auqaf Islamia, Muhammadi Trust, Anjuman Anwar ul Islam, Kaarvaan e Khatm e Naboowat and others.


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