Muslim groups in Rajasthan have threatened to move the High Court against a Rajasthan government order for organising blood donation camps in all government and private colleges on 25th September, the birth anniversary of Jan Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, saying the dates were likely to coincide with Eid and would mean cancellation of a national holiday for thousands of Muslim employees.
The government order dated 2nd September – a copy of which is with The Indian Express – directs principals of all government as well as private colleges to not grant leave to any staff member on 24th September.
The order, which has drawn sharp reactions from the opposition, also restrains college staff from leaving the college headquarters around the time.
The move has irked Muslim groups who say the dates were likely to coincide with Eid-ul-Zuha or Bakr Eid, which could fall on 24th or 25th September, 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 and an official event that day would deny people from celebrating it,” says Salim Engineer, national secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
“They are saying it is vountary 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 slammed the government’s move, saying the BJP was unnecessary creating grounds for confrontation in secular spheres like education.
“The decision is malafide in nature. Deendaya Upadhyay 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.
Secular teachers associations too, criticized the government’s order.
“The BJP government clearly wants to saffronise education. Deen Dayal Upadhyay subscribed to a particular ideology, that of Hindutva. Why does the government want to impose it on everyone,” Prakash Mishra, spokesperson of the Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh (Shekhawat) said.
The government however defended its decision saying participation in the event would be voluntary.
“The blood donation exercise would be completely voluntary and no student would be forced to come to college that day,” Commissioner, College Education, Rajendra Prasad Sharma told The Indian Express.
But what about the “no leave for staff” order?
“Well if some staff member wishes to avail leave that day, he or she is free to do that, provided they seek permission from the principal,” Sharma said.
Here’s the full order of the Rajasthan government: