The Rajasthan government’s move to organise blood donation camps in colleges to mark Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary on September 25 has evoked protests from Muslim groups as the event may clash with Eid-ul-Azha.
Eid is expected to be celebrated on September 24 or 25, depending on the sighting of the moon and it is not prudent to cancel the national holiday to observe somebody’s birth anniversary, Muslim organisations said.
Rajasthan’s commissioner of college education had on September 2 issued a circular on holding the blood donation camps at government and private colleges, following which he issued another order on the appointment of nodal officers for the camps on Tuesday.
The document asked the heads of institutions to cancel leave granted to staff members on September 24.
The order, however, failed to impress members of the Muslim community. Mohammad Iqbal Siddiqui, media secretary of Rajasthan’s Jamaat-e-Islam-e-Hind wing, said Eid-ul-Azha is likely to be celebrated on September 25, making it a national holiday.
“It is wrong to cancel the holiday granted for the festival of a community. It is also wrong politically – why should people be forced to celebrate the birth anniversary of a leader of a particular political ideology?” he asked.
Urging the government to withdraw the order, Siddiqui said the community is mulling legal action against the circular. “We are talking to our lawyers,” he said.
The Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity, a secular body, has spoken out against the government’s decision. Maintaining that this is a violation of the civil rights of teachers and college staffers, state president Sawai Singh said, “Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and every citizen is free to celebrate festivals as per their religious faiths. No one has the right to take it away from them.”
College education commissioner Rajendra Prasad Sharma said it is not mandatory for students or staffers to attend the blood donation camps. “Donating blood is noble, and whoever wants to do so can come,” he said.
Higher education minister Kali Charan Saraf said Deendayal Upadhyay should not be linked to any party. He was a great nationalist and humanist, he said, adding that nobody is being forced to attend the camps.
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was the forerunner of the Bharatiya Janata Party.