JAIPUR — In the middle of a row over BJP-ruled states imposing a meat ban for a Jain fasting festival, the BJP government of Rajasthan has sparked angry protests by asking schools and colleges in the state to organize blood donation camps on Eid Al Adha or Baqrid, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, which is a public holiday.
Days after announcing a meat ban, Rajasthan has ordered schools and colleges to prepare for blood donation camps on September 25, to mark the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, an icon of the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, reported NDTV. The day coincides with the Muslim festival, which is a public holiday including for schools and colleges, but will not be this time.
The Vasundhara Raje government’s order instructs colleges not to declare a holiday on the day. The order has angered Muslim groups in the state, who say they will go to court against the move to cancel the holiday.
“This is an unconstitutional and a very fascist order,” said Professor Salim Engineer of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Harmony. He alleged that the government’s move was a clear attempt at ‘saffronization’ or Hinduization of the state by the Hindutva groups and the BJP government.
The Rajasthan government has reacted to the backlash by saying Muslim teachers will be allowed to take “leave on that day if they wish.” But Muslim groups point out that this has not been put on paper by the government.
This is the latest controversy surrounding an announcement made by Rajasthan’s Education Department, which had earlier drawn criticism for making ‘Surya namaskar’, a yoga asana, compulsory in all government schools.
The Higher Education Minister Kalicharan Saraf, whose department issued the latest announcement on the blood donation camps, said there was nothing wrong in the order. “How is it saffronization? What does Deen Dayal have to do with saffronization? Is his contribution to the country not to be counted at all?” he asked.