On October 16, Jammu and Kashmir government has silently withdrawn an order to introduce Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita in the state schools and other educational institutions.
On October 4, B.B. Vyas, advisor to governor Satya Pal Malik has taken the decision in a meeting that Urdu version of Bhagavad Gita and Kashmiri version of Ramayana will be introduced in educational institutions. The order for the same was passed on October 22.
Thereafter, the directives were given to the directors of school education in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, director libraries and cultural department, authorities in higher education department for immediate implementation of the order in the state which is currently under the rule of the governor.
The decision has invited high level of criticism from social media and politicians.
Omar Abdullah, former chief minister was the first one to raise the eye brows on the decision stating on twitter, “Why only Ramayana and Gita? If the Government has to introduce the books on religion in schools and colleges, why is it on selective basis? What about other religions? Why to ignore them?”
Raja Muzaffar Bhat, RTI activist opposed the decision of the Government quoting that the Kashmiri students will be forced to read Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita, but what about Quran? Why this kind of division in the name of religion?
He further stated that there is no proposal of teaching Quran in the state in spite of the fact that Muslims are in majority.
J&K police, rather than the education department, was the first to make efforts and end the controversy.
J&K police quoted on its official twitter handle, “Circular given by the education department pertaining to the introduction of certain religious books stands withdrawn ab initiounder the orders of chief secretary.”
After an hour, the department of state information has given a separate statement, withdrawing the order. As per the statement, “The Communication No: Edu/Genl/35/2013 dated: 22-10-2018 given to the Director School Education Kashmir/Jammu by School Education Department has been withdrawn ab-initio on the instructions of BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary.”
However, the school authorities and the management of higher education department have sealed their mouth on the decision.
Ghulam Nabi Ittoo, director of school education in Kashmir stated, “I am not aware of any such information. I need to verify the same before throwing any light on the issue.”
The authorities from school education department of Jammu and that of other higher education have also quoted that they were ignorant about the order. One of the senior officials stated, “We have not come across any such information yet”.
He further added that the top officials of J&K police have the pre notion that the controversial issue could worsen the situation of law and order.
Mohammad Ishaq Qadri, former state advocate general, stated that the order to involve religious scriptures in the schools was not legal as per our constitution.
He added, “Our state is a secular one and the government is a body that should not be biased to any religion or caste. How can the Government raise promotion of any particular religion? It is not ethical as per our constitution.”