After facing criticism, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday withdrew the order which directed educational institutions to purchase the Urdu version of Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana for their libraries.
The government’s decision to purchase these books triggered a controversy with the former chief minister Omar Abdullah questioning why only “selective” religious books should be placed in education institutions.
An order issued by the state Chief Secretary said: “Circular issued by the Education Department regarding the introduction of some religious books stands withdrawn.”
An official spokesman announced in the morning that, “The communication No:Edu/Genl/35/2013 dated 22-10-2018 issued by the school education department to the director school education Kashmir/Jammu has been withdrawn ab-initio on the directions of the chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam”.
The decision to buy copies of the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana was made public on Monday through an order issued by the Education Department.
Withdrawal of the order under the pressure of a political section is being seen as an embarrassment to the administration of Governor Satyapal Malik.
Omar Abdullah was the first to raise objection on purchase of these religious books by tweeting; “Why just the Gita & Ramayana? If religious texts are to be placed in schools, colleges & government libraries (and I’m not convinced that they need/should be) then why is it being done selectively? Why are other religions being ignored?”
Why just the Gita & Ramayana? If religious texts are to be placed in schools, collages & government libraries (and I’m not convinced that they need/should be) then why is it being done selectively? Why are other religions being ignored? pic.twitter.com/UqxMG0NpMJ
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 22, 2018
The education department had on Monday had issued an order asking the school and higher education departments, directors of colleges and libraries and also the culture department to consider purchasing “sufficient number of copies each of Urdu version” of the Bhagwat Geeta and Koshur Ramayan authored by Sarwanand Premi, who was a Kashmiri Pandit poet and writer. Premi was pioneer in translating the Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta in three languages, Urdu, Hindi and Kashmiri. He was kidnapped by terrorists from his home on 29 April 1990 and tortured to death.
The education department’s order for purchase of these books had come following the decision in this regard that was taken in an earlier meeting on 4 October that was presided by the Governor’s advisor BB Vyas.