The Directorate of Education (DoE) in the Delhi government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has reportedly told the Delhi Minorities Commission that Muslim teachers working in government schools were not allowed to go for Friday prayers during school hours.
A report by IANS said that the DMC had received a reply to a letter sent to the Directorate of Education regarding permission to Muslim employees in schools for offering “Jumma (Friday) prayers” between 1 PM and 2 PM.
DMC chairman Zaraful Islam Khan told the news agency that the education department of the Delhi government had in a written response said that teachers “can’t leave their classes” and go for Juma prayers on Friday, as it would “harm the interests of students”.
“They (education department) said that the rules can’t be relaxed and teachers have to reach school by 12.45 (pm) for classes which begin at 1 (pm),” Khan was quoted as saying. Delhi’s education ministry is headed by Manish Sisodia.
Earlier, teachers had approached the Commission with a request to allow them to go for prayers on Friday, after which it had sought a response from the education department and the three municipal corporations on the issue.
Khan’s letter had stated, “In this connection on the basis of this letter, the commission has desired for a detailed report. You are hereby requested for forward the detailed report in the aforementioned matter for consideration and further necessary action at the end of the Commission latest by 27 April 2018.”
The response from the municipal corporations were awaited, Khan said adding that he will approach Sisodia, who is the final authority to decide upon such matters in the event that the DMC did not hear from the civic bodies of Delhi.
Khan said that in 1954, the government of India had issued a notification saying that Muslim employees could go for Juma prayers on Fridays. He said that the DMC had written to the MHA asking if that notification was still valid.
Meanwhile, the news has already evoked mixed reactions on social media platforms. One AAP supporter Kunal Sharma wrote on Facebook, “Well done AAP. BJP claims AAP is anti hindu, but it is pro hindustan.” Another user Sagar Acharekar felt that AAP had compulsion to take this step to secure ‘Hindu votes.’ User Saikia Mustafa concluded, “AAP is actually nothing but a B Team of RSS.”
This latest controversy comes little over a year after the Kejriwal government controversially defended the law criminalising the consumption of beef in the national capital. The Department of Animal Husbandry of the Delhi government had made the submission on an affidavit filed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Gita Mittal, and Justice C Hari Shankar.