In the midst of a controversy over plans to conduct blood donation camps on the occasion of Bharatiya Jan Sangh leader Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary, which falls on the same day as Eid, the government clarified that attendance at the blood donation camps was purely optional.
Stating that some people were indulging in “false propaganda” that there would be no holiday on September 25, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Singh Rathore said on Tuesday that donation of blood – sorely required in the light of the dengue and malaria outbreaks – would be voluntary.
Earlier in the day, a civil society group had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the state high court against the decision to hold the blood donation camps at government and private colleges on the day of Eid.
“We had no choice but to approach the high court against the government order cancelling the leave of Muslim employees at colleges to celebrate their festival. We earlier sought an appointment with the chief secretary, but there was no response from him,” said Sawai Singh, state president of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity (FDCA), which filed the PIL. The BJP government was deliberately trying to create resentment among minorities, he added.
Forum secretary Mohammad Iqbad Siddiqui said the government’s move was against the Constitution because it aimed at depriving Muslim college employees of an opportunity to celebrate the festival with their families, considering that they would be engaged in making arrangements for blood donation camps on September 25.
He said that the government, in its order, had also instructed principals to refrain from granting leave to employees on September 24.
While the government reiterated that attendance at the blood donation camps was “voluntary”, the word was added to circulars issued by the department of college education only on September 14 and 15. In previous circulars — issued on September 2, 3, 8 and 9 — the “voluntary” nature of the programme was not mentioned.
Commissioner of College Education Rajendra Sharma had said in an order: “The government holiday on Eid remains unchanged, but some employees in colleges will have to be deployed for holding the camps on September 25. It is for the principal of individual colleges to decide who should be engaged.”
The Raje government is holding 100 blood donation camps with the participation of all government and private colleges on September 25. The festival of Eid al-Adha or Bakra Eid is also scheduled to be celebrated on the same day.