Mehbooba Terms Controversial Surya Namaskar Directive for Kashmir Colleges ‘Communal’
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: NDTV
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration’s order directing colleges to ensure that their faculty members and students perform Surya Namaskar on Makar Sankranti on Friday has triggered a fresh controversy with former chief minister (CM) Mehbooba Mufti terming the directive as the reflection of a “communal mindset” and her predecessor Omar Abdullah saying it is a matter of “personal choice” to celebrate the festival.
An order dated January 12 and signed by professor Yasmeen Ashai, director of colleges, J&K higher education department, stated: “To mark the holy occasion of Makar Sankranti on 14th January 2022, Government of India has desired that on the occasion a large scale virtual Surya Namaskar be organised under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.”
Authorities in #Kashmir region have asked nodal principals of colleges in #Jammu and #Kashmir divisions to ensure faculty members and students actively participate in large scale virtual Surya Namaskar programmme that is supposed to be held on January 14, 2022. pic.twitter.com/4PbQJ5t1cd
— Azaan Javaid (@AzaanJavaid) January 13, 2022
The order directs the colleges to “ensure that all faculty members and students actively participate in this programme” so that it becomes “a People Centric (sic) Successful Programme with [the] tagline ‘Surya Namaskar for Vitality’.”
The directive has been widely slammed by regional political parties and several Kashmiris who termed it as an act of imposing religious practices on a majority population against its traditions.
Terming the order as the Centre’s “PR misadventure”, Peoples Democratic Party leader Mufti tweeted that it is meant to “demean and collectively humiliate Kashmiris” and “gives an insight into their [the Union government] communal mindset”.
GOIs PR misadventures aim to demean & collectively humiliate Kashmiris.Forcing students & staff to perform suryanamaskars by issuing orders despite their obvious discomfort with imposition of something laden with religious connotations gives an insight into their communal mindset https://t.co/tgk9xidZz0
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) January 13, 2022
Questioning the logic behind “forcing” Muslim students to perform yoga to celebrate Makar Sankranti, Mufti’s predecessor and J&K National Conference (JKNC) leader Abdullah tweeted: “Would the BJP be happy if a similar order was issued to order non-Muslim students to celebrate Eid?”
Why should Muslim students be forced to do anything, including yoga, to celebrate Makar Sankranti?Makar Sankranti is a festival & 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? https://t.co/n6luhwSm1J
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) January 13, 2022
Terming the order as “religious interference” and demanding its rollback, JKNC provincial spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar tweeted: “The fact that heads of colleges in Kashmir have been directed to “ensure” participation of faculty, students and the fact that these Heads are now forced to force Muslims to perform ‘Surya Namaskar’ is a proof of religious interference. Roll the order back.”
The fact that heads of colleges in Kashmir have been directed to "ensure" participation of faculty, students and the fact that these Heads are now forced to force Muslims to perform 'Surya Namaskar' is a proof of religious interference. Roll the order backhttps://t.co/ARZg74Uzyl pic.twitter.com/vumttV31dq
— Imran Nabi Dar (@ImranNDar) January 13, 2022
Others questioned the timing of the directive with the administration disallowing Friday prayers at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid. “The order asks us to reject the basic tenet of our faith. It is incendiary to disallow prayers at Kashmir’s most important mosque and then ask people to salute the Sun god. If we perform Surya Namaskar, we won’t be Muslims,” a student from Srinagar’s Amar Singh College requesting anonymity told Newsclick.
Three-time legislator and JKNC dissident Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi cautioned against participating in the activity and blasted Ashai for signing the order and being a “slave”.
The oppression does not reflect in this order or “desire” as much as the slavery reflects in the pen of the undersigned.
They told them to bend, the so called “leadership” of Kashmir crawled. But what about the society as a whole? What does the signature in this case reflect? pic.twitter.com/bHgvfivffi
— Ruhullah Mehdi (@RuhullahMehdi) January 13, 2022
“If an individual can sign an order which is against his/her faith and freedom of religion, it’s more worrisome than the oppression itself. If the people asked to attend, give in to this order and participate, it’s us (the society) (sic) to be blamed for the consequences, not them,” he tweeted.
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