After Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti expressed her objections over students in Kashmir being compelled to chant 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram', Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Ravinder Raina on Tuesday, 20 September, accused Mufti of "poisioning young minds."
"Mahatma Gandhi united the whole nation by this bhajan during the freedom struggle. The school children also sing 'lab pe aati hai dua banke tamanna meri... (my heart's desire comes to my lips as a prayer)' in their morning assembly and there was no objection from anyone," news agency PTI quoted Raina as saying.
The BJP leader accused Mufti of 'playing politics' and stirring a controversy.
"This country belongs to all of us, the people of all faiths – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and others. Mehbooba should read more often Allama Iqbal's 'mazhab nahin sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna' (religion does not teach us to fight)," the saffron party leader said.
'Protection of Islamic Identity': What Mufti, MMU Stated
On Monday, Mufti had taken to Twitter and posted a video capturing the school staff asking students to recite Hindu hymns, and termed it as the Narendra Modi government's real "Hindutva agenda."
"Jailing religious scholars, shutting down Jama Masjid, & directing school kids here to sing Hindu hymns exposes the real Hindutva agenda of GOI in Kashmir,” the PDP chief had said in the tweet.
Echoing these concerns, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), an amalgam of religious and educational organisations, also strongly objected to the alleged enforcement of singing these hymns.
In a statement, the MMU said,
"Protection of our religion and Islamic identity is, as Muslims, our fundamental religious responsibility; and deliberate interference in this by the government, education department, or any other agency will neither be accepted nor tolerated."
"It is becoming clear that there seems to be a deliberate plan to push our young generation through state run educational institutions towards apostasy, to wean them away from Islamic beliefs and identity, to speed their so-called integration with the Hindutva idea of India," it added.
Disagreeing with Mufti, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said, "I don't accept that India is communal, it has been and will remain secular. I used to sing bhajans but will I become Hindu because of that?"