The government in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has come up with an annual calendar that reduces discretionary holidays around Muslim festivals while making it compulsory for Islamic religious schools to remain closed on festivals of other faiths.
The state government had earlier made it mandatory for Islamic schools in UP to render the national anthem and video-graph it on the Independence Day of the country.
Clerics that spoke to the media expressed unhappiness at the move.
Hitherto, madrassas in UP were closed only during Muslim festivals with the exception of Holi and Ambedkar Jayanti.
New calendar marks Mahavir Jayanti, Buddh Purnima, Raksha Bandhan, Mahanavmi, Diwali, Dussehra and Christmas as holidays as well.
While seven new holidays have been added, 10 discretionary holidays allowed to the Islamic schools for festivals like Eidul Azha and Muharram have been reduced to four days.
Also, these cannot be taken as a cumulative, but one day at a time when clubbed with a festival.
Registrar of the UP Madrassa Board Rahul Gupta, explaining the move, said, “The 10-day holiday used to be at madrassas’ discretion, but now this is predetermined and distributed round the birthdays of great leaders. It’s important for students to know who these people were.”
“It has also been done to bring Islamic schools on par with basic school education following the general rule of law,” he added.
A Muslim official told reporters he was unhappy with the proposal.
Eijaz Ahmed, president of the Islamic Madrasa Modernisation Teachers’ Association, said, “Madrasas are religious institutions that do require different kinds of leave around a number of minority events for which the former discretionary leave was used. There is no problem in addition of holidays of other faiths, but it is totally wrong to cut down the ten discretionary special leaves.”
This article originally appeared on The Times of India