Perform Surya Namaskar: Directive To J&K Colleges Sparks Debate

Jammu and Kashmir government order asking faculty and students of all colleges to perform Surya Namaskar on the occasion of Makar Sankranti has triggered a controversy, which several Muslims say is unacceptable and against basic tenets of their faith.

Order by Director Colleges, J&K Higher education department reads, “To mark the holy occasion of Makar Sankranti on 14th January 2022, Government of India has desired that on the occasion a large scale virtual Surya Namaskar be organized under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.”

The order seeks faculty and students to make it a people-centric program with the tagline “Surya Namaskar for vitality”. 

“Kindly ensure that all faculty members and students actively participate in this program,” the order read.

This is for the first time when students in the Muslim majority region have been asked to participate in Surya Namaskar.

Terming the directive as the government’s “PR misadventure” and the reflection of a “communal mindset”, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet said, “GOIs PR misadventures aim to demean & collectively humiliate Kashmiris. Forcing students & 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 mindset.”

Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Why should Muslim students be forced to do anything, including yoga, to celebrate Makar Sankranti? Makar Sankranti is a festival & 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?”

NC youth leader Umesh Talashi asked what will be the reaction if tomorrow a Muslim Chief Minister issues an order asking everyone to observe fast during Ramzan.

“If tomorrow, a Muslim CM issues an executive order that everybody should observe fast on Ramzan, how will that sound for non-muslim community members? Babus should stop imposing religious practices on people, they have no right to interfere in these matters,” he said.

Another NC leader, Ruhullah Mehdi, said the order reflects the slavery of officials who signed the order. 

“The oppression does not reflect in this order or “desire” as much as the slavery reflects in the pen of the undersigned.”

He tweeted, “They told them to bend, the so-called “leadership” of Kashmir crawled. But what about society as a whole? What does the signature in this case reflect?”

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