An important decision was taken in a meeting chaired by the advisor to Jammu and Kashmir Governor BB Vyas which took place on October 4th. The committee headed by the Governor’s advisor ordered schools, colleges and public libraries in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that they have Urdu versions of religious scriptures Bhagavad Gita and Koshur Ramayan stocked in their libraries. As a result of the decision taken in the meeting the administrative department of education had sent a written letter to the directors of school education department in both Jammu and Kashmir, asking them to implement the same.
The order signed by school education department’s under-secretary to the government dated 22nd October, read, “The School Education Department, Higher Education Department, Director Colleges, Director Libraries and Culture Department will consider purchasing sufficient number of copies each of Urdu version of “Shrimad Bhagavad Gita” and “Koshur Ramayan” authored by Shri Sarwanand Premi for making these available in Schools/ Colleges and public libraries etc. of the State.” The government had also issued similar directives to higher education departments and culture departments of the state as well.
This decision had come months after the Education department of Jammu and Kashmir had decided to add Vedic and Buddhist studies in the higher secondary level in the state. The proposal was raised in June to discuss the outline for implementing the same in schools throughout the state. The decision to add Koshur Ramayan and Bhagavad Gita came out in October, which means that the government has the plan in its mind for a long period of time prior to bringing out the order.
This directive was a novel attempt by the Jammu and Kashmir government to connect the Kashmiri population with the indigenous Indian culture. The government had carefully chosen to add books in Urdu language as it is used extensively in the state. Considering the fact that Kashmir valley is dominated by Muslims there was a need to add the books in the local language so that the move did not cause unnecessary tensions in the already volatile valley. This however did not stop the leaders from the valley from bringing in dirty politics into this well meaning move, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted
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
As soon as the news broke, the Islamist elements across valley united against the novel move and forced the J&K government to withdraw the circular. This serves as a resounding slap on the collective face of the mainstream media which has peddled the false narrative of Kashmir being a political problem, when it is a religious one. It is the deep seated hatred, that the locals have for other religions that manifests itself in new ways every day. From the forced Kashmiri hindu exodus, to pelting stones on pandit pilgrims, to rabid attacks on Indian Army. We are constantly reminded of the fact that they hate non-muslims with a vengeance beyond belief, logic and prudence.
Secularism and pluralism shouldn’t be oriented towards minority appeasement only, something that our mainstream media pursues with absolute zest. Kashmir itself has a wide collection of ancient Hindu scriptures such as the Nilamata Purana, Virath Katha and other texts which are commonly known as the Gilgit manuscripts. These texts belong to the pre-Islamic era are now facing the threat of destruction. The introduction of Bhagavad Gita and Koshur Ramayan would have helped them understand Hinduism, leading to them forming a deeper connect with the Hindu populations of the state and the country. This would have been a welcome step towards ending the hostility that the locals harbor towards people of other religions.