'Discriminatory': Muslim clerics, activists oppose UP govt's decision of Gayatri Mantra recital in jails

Asia’s biggest Sunni and Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in Saharanpur, in a statement, called the decision discriminatory and said that it violated the fundamental rights of a person

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NH Correspondent/Lucknow

The decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to allow recitation of the Gayatri mantra and Maha Mritunjay mantra in district jails has received severe criticism as social activists and Muslim scholars claim that this decision is against the spirit of secularism.

Asia’s biggest Sunni and Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in Saharanpur, in a statement, called the decision discriminatory and said that it violated the fundamental rights of a person.

On Friday, the Yogi government declared that the recitation of the 'Gayatri Mantra' and 'Mahamrityunjay mantra' will be played on the public address system of the district jail every morning. Besides, sermons of some saints would also be organised in the jail, preferably every Sunday.

UP Minister of State for Prisons and Home Guards, Dharamvir Prajapati, said that recitation of the Gayatri Mantra and Mahamrityunjay mantra will bring positive energy among the prison inmates. "This will bring a positive change among the inmates, and this may also help them in regretting their crimes," he said.

“There would be sermons of 'saints' for prisoners. The aim of the initiative is to inculcate a positive attitude among the inmates, so that when they are released from prison they become good persons," he said.

Incidentally, Sitapur jail was the first to start the chanting of Gayatri Mantra from the public address system of the prison last Friday, which was the first day of Friday namaz during this Ramzan. Senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan is an undertrial in this jail.

Darul Uloom Deoband has opposed this decision. Maulana Mufti Arshad Farooqui, head of the Fatwa cell of Darul Uloom Deoband said: “Indian constitution gives equal right to every individual to lead their respective lives as per their religious beliefs. In this light, the order of the UP government on Gayatri and Mahamritunjay mantras is unfair and discriminatory. It is a violation of the fundamental rights as the jail inmates are from different religions.”


He demanded that government should withdraw the order.

The order has come at a time when a controversy is raging over the use of loudspeakers in mosques. Some Hindu organisations are demanding that either the use of loudspeakers be banned in mosques or Hindus will start chanting mantras on loudspeakers installed in temples.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, a social activist, asked how the chanting of Gayatri Mantras can be allowed in prisons. If the government is committed to bringing positivity among prisoners, it should allow prayers from every religion to be broadcast on the prison’s public address system.

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