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Rajasthan govt tells schoolkids to visit Hindu outfit’s fair, stall warns of ‘love jihad’

The education department recently asked government schools in Jaipur to take students to a fair organised by the Hindu Spirituality and Service Foundation (HSSF), prompting critics to call it another move by the government to saffronise education.

jaipur Updated: Nov 18, 2017 20:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,Hindu outfit,Fair stall
School students at the fair organised by the Hindu Spirituality and Service Foundation in Jaipur on Saturday.(Prabhakar Sharma/HT Photo)

The education department recently asked government schools in Jaipur to take students to a fair organised by the Hindu Spirituality and Service Foundation (HSSF), prompting critics to call it another move by the government to saffronise education.

A stall of the Bajrang Dal in the fair had manuals for girls on how to protect themselves from ‘love jihad’, an alleged conspiracy theory that Muslims woo Hindu girls to convert them to Islam. The manual specified the ways through which Muslim youths trap Hindu girls.

“The HSSF works to promote human and family values, ecological causes, and patriotism,” said Dinesh Peetaliya, treasurer of the Foundation. The objective of the five-day fair that kicked off on Thursday is to give a platform to all Hindu organisations to come together and showcase their work to common people, he added.

Ramkrishna Mission, Patanjali, Shankhnaad Foundation, and Subhadra Gau Utpad were some of the organisations that had put up their stalls in the fair. The treasurer said the fair was apolitical, neutral and for all the communities.

Jaipur district education officer Ratan Singh said government schools had been asked to take school kids to the fair but the visit was not made mandatory. “Whenever such programmes are organised, where we feel students will learn something or get exposure, we ask the schools to take the kids,” said Singh.

Condemning the move, activist Komal Srivastava said the government was trying to poison the minds of students. “The government’s idea is to catch them young and further their binary narrative (us-them divide). They also want to curb the freedom of girls by using the love jihad propaganda as a pretext,” said Srivastava, president of Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti that works for science popularisation, education and rights of women.

Earlier this month, the Rajasthan government organised a mass Vande Mataram recital programme in collaboration with the HSSF and told students to attend the programme. The state government has on earlier occasions drawn flak for glorifying Hindutva icons in schoolbooks and pushing to sidelines the role of Gandhi and Nehru in the Indian independence movement.

First Published: Nov 18, 2017 20:46 IST