– Raheem Khan
Sikar, Rajasthan, Feb. 12: The Muslim Forum Sikar on February 12 submitted a memorandum to the District Collector opposing Surya Namaskar program in schools. The memorandum was submitted by a delegation of Muslim Forum comprising Convener Engineer Khurshid Hussain, Amiruddin Tagala, Salimuddin Kachchawa, Ahsan Ali Gaur, Usman Gani, Mustafa Khan, Mohammad Arif, and representatives of local units of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat Ahle Hadees, and Tablighi Jamaat.
The memorandum states that India is a secular nation and the government is prohibited from promoting any particular religion. It further states that the orders issued by Director of Secondary Education, Bikaner, and Rajasthan School Education Council on February 2, February 1, and January 30, respectively, mandating Surya Namaskar in all educational institutions are unconstitutional.
The memorandum demands that the government immediately withdraw all orders regarding Surya Namaskar in schools and stop their implementation.
The Surya Namaskar has been a source of controversy in India for several years. Critics of the program argue that it’s a religious practice and that mandating it in schools violates the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Supporters of the program argue that it should be taught in schools as part of a comprehensive physical education program.
The Rajasthan government’s decision to mandate Surya Namaskar in schools has sparked protests from Muslim groups in the state. On Friday, Rajasthan Muslim Forum (a United Front of the Leading Muslim Organisations) also issued an appeal to Muslims regarding the order of Rajasthan government to make students do Surya Namaskar in all the schools of the state on February 15.
A hearing on a petition filed by Muslim organizations challenging the Rajasthan government’s decision to make Surya Namaskar mandatory in schools was scheduled to take place in the Rajasthan High Court on February 12, which was deferred to February 14.
It remains to be seen how the Rajasthan government will respond to the demands of the Muslim groups.
In a similar case, in 2015, the Rajasthan government clarified in the High Court that Suryanamaskar is not mandatory in schools but it is optional, students who want to do it voluntarily can do it.