September 10, 2015 6:24:45 am
Muslim groups in Rajasthan have threatened to move the high court against a state government order for organising blood donation camps at all government and private colleges on September 25, the birth anniversary of Jan Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya. Their contention is that the date is likely to coincide with Bakr Eid, which would mean cancellation of a national holiday for thousands of Muslim employees.
The government order dated September 2 directs principals of all government and private colleges to not grant leave to any staff member around that time.
Muslim groups say the dates are likely to coincide with Eid-ul-Zuha or Bakr Eid, which could be on September 24 or 25, based on the sighting of the crescent moon.
“This is a clear violation of human rights of Muslim employees. Eid-ul-Zuha is the biggest festival for Muslims. An official event that day would prevent people from celebrating it,” said Salim Engineer, national secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
“They are saying it is voluntary, but how can that be when there are clear orders to not grant leave? We will meet the chief secretary about this and also file a writ petition in the high court,” he said.
The opposition Congress also slammed the government’s move, saying the BJP was creating unnecessary grounds for confrontation in secular spheres like education.
“The decision is malafide in nature. Deendayal Upadhyaya was never a part of the government. If the BJP wants to celebrate his birth anniversary, they should do it at the party level. Why are they denying leave to Muslims on an important festival which is a gazetted holiday?” former chief minister Ashok Gehlot told The Indian Express.
Some teachers’ associations too, criticised the government’s order. “The BJP government clearly wants to saffronise education. Deendayal Upadhyaya subscribed to a particular ideology, that of Hindutva. Why does the government want to impose it on everyone?” Prakash Mishra, spokesperson of Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh (Shekhawat), said.
The government defended its decision saying that participation in the event would be voluntary. “The blood donation exercise will be completely voluntary and no student will be forced to come to college that day,” Commissioner, College Education, Rajendra Prasad Sharma told The Indian Express.
Asked about the “no leave for staff” order, he said, “If some staff member wishes to take leave that day, he or she is free to do that, provided they seek permission from the principal.”
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