Issue Brief on “Hindu Hymns in Schools: A New Controversy Hits IIOJK”

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As the weather is about to take a turn, the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) once again found itself in the grip of yet another controversy. This time, a video showing Muslim students in several government-run schools of IIOJK being forced to sing Hindu hymns such as Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram. The videos surfaced on social media causing great distress among Muslims of the region.[1]

While expressing her surprise and anger, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted “Jailing religious scholars, shutting down Jama Masjid and directing school kids here to sing Hindu hymns exposes the real Hindutva agenda of Government of India in Kashmir. Refusing these rabid dictates invites Public Safety Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). It is the cost that we are paying for this so-called ‘Badalta J&K’.”[2] She went on to say that India is a democracy where all communities live with their due rights. The constitution of India guarantees that all communities can follow their religion. However, “our religion too is a target now. Kashmir is being made a laboratory of a rabid Hindutva agenda.”[3] Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU) Jammu and Kashmir which comprises 30 religious, social, and educational organizations also expressed its outrage saying that “this matter is a cause of great concern and an attempt to undermine our religious identity… “Protection of our religion and Islamic identity is as Muslims our fundamental religious responsibility; and deliberate interference in this by the government, education department or any other agency will neither be accepted nor tolerated.”[4]  They further emphasised that “it is becoming clear that there seems to be a deliberate plan to push our young generation through state-run educational institutions towards apostasy, to wean them away from Islamic beliefs and identity, to speed their so-called ‘integration’, with the Hindutva idea of India. This is a very serious matter.”[5]

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