(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) The Bihar education department's new holiday calendar for 2024 has ignited a fierce debate, with the exclusion of holidays for Hindu festivals like Hartalika Teej, Rakshabandhan and Jitiya, juxtaposed against the extension of holidays for Muslim festivals, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (Bakrid), now set at three days each. Furthermore, the summer vacation period has been significantly elongated, soaring from 20 to 30 days.
This decision has triggered protests from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has launched a scathing attack on the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government. The BJP accuses the government of reducing holidays for the state's schools during Hindu festivals while augmenting them for Muslim festivals, sparking allegations of religious bias.
Union Minister Ashwini Choubey minced no words, labelling Nitish Kumar as the "chief of appeasement" and asserting that the "anti-Hindu face" of the grand alliance has once again surfaced. Choubey went on to allege that the Bihar government is sacrificing Hindu traditions for political gains, stating, "On one hand, holidays for Muslim festivals are being extended in schools, while holidays for Hindu festivals are being abolished."
Adding fuel to the fire, firebrand BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh took a swipe at the Nitish Kumar-led government, provocatively referring to the state as the 'Islamic Republic of Bihar.' Singh accused the government of favouring Muslim festivals at the expense of Hindu festivals.
This controversy echoes a similar incident earlier this year when, in an order dated August 29, the government initially slashed the number of holidays for the state's schools from 22 to 8 over the next five months. However, facing massive opposition, the order was swiftly withdrawn.
In response to the current uproar, the director of secondary education issued a notification, stating,“The August 29 order comprising the holiday list in government primary, middle, and secondary schools is cancelled with immediate effect,” signalling a reconsideration of the controversial decision. The situation remains tense as political and public discourse intensifies over the perceived religious bias in the education department's holiday calendar.
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