Islamic Body Seeks Ban on Practices in Kashmir

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU) on Saturday urged the government and education department to stop practices like “singing of bhajans and Surya Namaskars” in schools in Kashmir, stating that it was hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.

The MMU, which is a collective of around 30 Islamic religious and educational organizations in Kashmir, alleged that Muslim students were being made to chant bhajans and perform Surya Namaskar, and expressed resentment against these acts stating that they were attempts to undermine the Muslim identity in Kashmir.

“The MMU today held a meeting at Jama Masjid, Srinagar, in the wake of unfortunate attempts to undermine the Muslim identity of Kashmir by asking Muslim students in schools and educational institutions to sing Hindu religious songs and do Surya Namaskar,” the collective said in a statement.

“These diktats hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims and create anguish in them.”

The row erupted after People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday shared a video showing students in a classroom in Kulgam, near Srinagar, singing a bhajan, purportedly urged by teachers.

Attacking the Centre, Mufti said that these directives were exposing the ‘real Hindutva agenda’ of the Union government.

The MMU passed a resolution in the meeting to express concern over attempts being made to “weaken the Muslim identity” in the Kashmir valley.

“MMU strongly regrets activities being implemented through schools and educational institutions aimed at furthering the Hindutva agenda in Kashmir,” it said.

The statement also urged the government and education departments to withdraw these practices, and directed parents to withdraw children from schools if they were being ‘forced to participate in un-Islamic activities’.

“As such MMU appeals to the government and concerned authorities to immediately withdraw its orders and stop these practices in schools and educational institutions, which deeply hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims and cause them grief,” it said.

“This meeting also urged the parents that if their children are forced to participate in un-Islamic activities in government schools, they should withdraw their children from these schools and enroll them in private schools.”

Weighing on the row, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah offered a different point of view, emphasizing on India’s secularity. “We didn’t believe in two-nation theory. India is not communal and India is secular. I am chanting bhajan. If I am chanting bhajan, is it wrong?” Abdullah said on Wednesday, as quoted by news agency ANI.

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