Under flak over the decision on namaz break, the Harish Rawat government has said state employees, irrespective of their religion, caste and creed, will be allowed “special short breaks” to offer prayers during their festivals if they make a request for it.
“A decision has been taken to allow special short breaks to state employees of all communities, creeds and castes for prayers, religious occasions and festivals. It will be given only if they make a request,” media advisor to the chief minister Surendra Kumar said in a statement.
“The Chief Minister took the decision in view of the spurt in demands for holidays by state employees belonging to different religions and communities on festivals and religious occasions,” he said.
The announcement came two days after the state cabinet allowed a two-hour break for government staff to offer namaz on Fridays.
The cabinet’s decision to allow a special two-hour Friday break for Muslim employees had drawn flak from the opposition parties, including BJP, which had accused the government of indulging in “minority appeasement” ahead of Assembly polls.
Shiv Sena on Tuesday hit out at the Congress government in Uttarakhand for its decision to give a 90-minute break to Muslim employees in the state service for Friday prayers, and sought to know if similar concessions would be provided to Hindus as well.
The NDA constituent alleged that the decision was taken only to reap political benefits and wanted the Election Commission to take note of it since polls are due in the state next year.
The Uttarakhand government recently announced that a special 90-minute break will be given to the state employees from Muslim community for attending Friday prayers.
A cabinet meeting on Saturday chaired by Chief Minister Harish Rawat decided that a special break from 12.30 pm to 2 pm will be given to the employees from the community.
“The elections in Uttarakhand are around the corner and if the government has taken the decision to appease Muslim voters, the Election Commission should take notice of the state government’s decision,” an editorial in Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.
“If a break can be given to Muslims to offer their prayers, then similar facility should be provided to Hindu employees for their prayers and fasts. Special privileges in the name of religion to government employees is a sign of deceit,” the party said.