A government order asking faculty members and students of colleges to perform Surya Namaskar has drawn sharp criticism from two former J&K chief ministers and city mayor as they termed this order as undemocratic.
Director colleges, higher education department, Yasmeen Ashai in an order had directed nodal principal, Jammu division colleges, and nodal principal, Kashmir division colleges, for organising a large-scale Surya Namaskar on Friday on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
“The Government of India has desired that on the occasion, a large-scale virtual Surya Namaskar be organised under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations to make it a people-centric successful programme with a tag line “Surya Namaskar for vitality”. Kindly ensure that all faculty members and students actively participate in the programmes,” reads the government order.
“Why should Muslim students be forced to do anything, including yoga, to celebrate Makar Sankranti? It 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,” asked NC vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah in a tweet.
Another former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also criticised the decision. “GOIs PR misadventures aim to demean and collectively humiliate Kashmiris. Forcing students and staff to perform Surya Namaskars by issuing orders despite their obvious discomfort with the imposition of something laden with religious connotations gives an insight into their communal mind-set,” Mufti tweeted.
Srinagar city mayor and Apni party leader Junaid Azim Mattu termed the order as “undemocratic”.
“No activity with origins in religion, mythology or faith should be forced upon anyone. Such broad-brushed, undemocratic directives are violative of the very basic principles of our constitution,” tweeted Mattu.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), the amalgam of several religious organisations of J&K, in a statement took strong exception to the government order.
The MMU said, “To deliberately force them to do so by issuing directives is mischievous. The rulers should be clear that this is completely unacceptable to the Muslims of the state who will never yield to such highhandedness.”
The statement further 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.