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HC order on compulsory singing of Vande Mataram sparks row

Mumbai: The Madras High Court ruling on singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ has triggered a political slugfest in Maharashtra with a BJP MLA demanding its implementation in schools and colleges of the state, while legislators of some other parties have opposed any such move.

Waris Pathan, the MLA of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) from Mumbai, yesterday said he would not sing the national song “even if anyone puts revolver to his head”.

The Samajwadi Party’s Maharashtra unit president and MLA, Abu Asim Azmi, also said he would not sing it even if he was “thrown out of the country”. The reaction comes in the wake of a demand raised by senior BJP MLA Raj Purohit, who, citing the Madras High Court order, said that singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ should be made mandatory in all schools and colleges across Maharashtra.

The Madras High Court had on Tuesday made singing of the national song mandatory in schools across Tamil Nadu, at least twice a week. Speaking to reporters outside the Vidhan Bhavan here, Purohit, the BJP chief whip in the Assembly, yesterday said he would meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today and seek the latter’s intervention to make it compulsory for everybody to sing the national song at any event.

“I will raise the demand in the House as well. I will tell the chief minister that the government should come up with a policy which would make it compulsory for everybody to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ at the beginning of an event and ‘Jana Gana Mana’ at the end,” Purohit said. Reacting to Purohit’s demand, Pathan, who represents the Byculla constituency in south Mumbai, said a particular ideology cannot be imposed on people.

“I will not sing ‘Vande Mataram’. My religion as well as law do not allow me to sing it. Even if anyone puts a revolver to my head, I will not sing it. I will oppose the demand in the House,” he said. Azmi alleged that BJP was following the instructions of RSS which would eventually polarise the society.

“I am a true follower of Islam. Singing ‘Vande Mataram’ would be against my religion as well as Constitution. A true Muslim will never sing it. I will also not sing it even if I am thrown out of the country,” he told reporters. However, the BJP’s otherwise unpredictable ally Shiv Sena backed Purohit.

Condemning the AIMIM and the SP, senior Sena leader and transport minister Diwakar Raote said they are “traitors”.

“They need to know that it (Vande Mataram) is a patriotic song which was sung by freedom fighters during the struggle for Independence,” he said.

As per the Madras High Court order, private and government schools in the southern state should ensure that their students sing the national song at least twice a week preferably on Monday and Friday.

The order also said the song can also be played in other government and private establishments at least once in a month.

The high court also said that if any person or organisation has difficulty in singing or playing the song, they shall not be compelled or forced to sing it, provided there are valid reasons for not doing so.

PTI