New Delhi, April 11: The Bhartiya Janta Party led state government in Uttarakhand under CM Trivendra Singh Rawat has decided to revoke 90 minutes break being granted to Muslim workers to attend their Friday congregational (Namaz) prayers.
Former chief minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat had in December last year announced that all Muslim state government employees would be given a 90-minute break every Friday for Namaz prayers. The BJP, then in opposition, had opposed the decision and alleged congress for bringing a decision to appease minority in the mountain state.
When BJP alleged congress for favouring Muslims over Hindus, Rawat had extended the “short breaks” to all Uttarakhand government employees, irrespective of their religion, caste and creed to offer prayers during their festivals.
In an official statement Rawat had said, “A decision has been taken to allow special short breaks to state employees of all communities, creeds and castes for prayers, religious occasions and festivals. It will be given only if they make a request.”
Media advisor to Rawat said “The Chief Minister took the decision in view of the spurt in demands for holidays by state employees belonging to different religions and communities on festivals and religious occasions.”
However the incumbent BJP CM has decided to scrap the previous government’s decision accusing it for granting special holiday package for Minorities. BJP has said that if Muslims are granted Namaz break then Hindus too shall get a break for worshipping their Gods. CM Trivendra Sing Yadav has said that Congress decision to grant break to Muslim government employees a break on Friday for Namaz prayer was wrong and it is controversial.
He further said we want equal rights for all people without any discrimination. The decision would certainly hurt the sentiments of 14 % Minority population in the state.
It should be noted here that Muslim employees of the central government are also allowed to take a break of one-hour during lunch time for Friday prayers. This was revealed by an RTI reply in 2010, by the Department of Personnel and Training.
The practice has been continuing for the Central government’s Muslim employees since British time. The RTI documents show that in 1963, the Ministry of Defence was directed to allow a similar break for employees in the military establishment.
When Central government allows the break to Muslim employees, minorities in the Uttarakhand would certainly feel cheated by the CM Trivendra Singh Rawat decision.