An order directing schools in Delhi for the recital of Gayatri Mantra run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has left the minority commission in the national capital seething.
Chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission Zafarul Islam Khan issued a notice to the education department of the NDMC asking it to explain why the circular was issued.
“Is this not against our secular polity and will this not cause division in the ranks of students and teachers. Many belong to minority communities and they may not like to recite mantras of religious nature,” PTI quoted the notice.
The NDMC, for its part, has defended its action saying such recitation was not mandatory.
According to reports, the NDMC runs 765 primary schools where about 2.2 lakh students are enrolled.
Chairman of Education committee of the BJP-ruled municipal corporation, Ritu Goel said that she had no knowledge of the notice issued by the minorities panel on Gayatri Mantra but added its recital was not mandatory. “We have already clarified it’s not mandatory in our schools,” she was quoted by news agency.
The NDMC had issued the order on Gayatri Mantra last month, when it became a topic of huge controversy as both AAP and the Congress reacted angrily to the decision. The Aam Aadmi Party, which runs the Delhi government, had said that such orderscould not be issued when children of all religions studied in schools.
AAP Leader of Opposition in the North civic body, Anil Lakra, had said, “These are state-funded schools and state cannot impose any one particular religious belief irrespective of whether one is Hindu, Muslim or Christian.”
Leader of Congress in North Corporation, Mukesh Goyal, had said, “The learning level is such that several students are unable to identify English and Hindi alphabets. So instead of making them learn Gayatri Manta, they should first focus on making them learn English and Hindi alphabets and words.”
Not too long ago, the AAP government had come under huge condemnation after its education department said that Muslim teachers could not take time off to offer Friday prayers.