The top brass in the education department is mounting pressure on officials posted at the Directorate level in Kashmir to buy Hindu mythology books for its library stocks.
According to officials the Commissioner Secretary Education has recently written to the officers at the Directorate level in Kashmir that they should buy Hindu mythology books including Bhagavad Gita. The officers have been asked to buy the books for reference and stock them at the libraries of lower schools as well as the higher secondary institutions.
A senior government official said that they are in a quandary after being asked to buy the books, when there was no provision under rules to purchase the religious books.
“We have been receiving letters from the office of Commissioner Secretary Education to buy the books. We are not buying Islamic books, so how can we buy Hindu mythology books?’’ asked a senior government official.
He said that the top brass in the department has been asking them to purchase the books through a Kashmiri Pandit, who is now settled in Jammu.
“We have been told to buy the books and even have received the note from the Chief Minister’s office asking us to spell out the policy,’’ said the official. He added that the matter was also taken up earlier in the Assembly and it appears that the “government was under pressure from the BJP to buy the Hindu mythology books for its schools.’’
A senior official who is working at the office of Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) said that there was no provision under rules to buy the religious scriptures as they were not part of the school curriculum.
“The books are being bought only once in a year by a committee of experts which comprises lecturers and Chief Education Officers (CEOs). It is done after government facilitates an exhibition by publishers and even charges them for the stall space,’’ he said.
Officials said that this year the exhibition for the books was held at Kothibag School and the government has approved a grant of nearly Rs 1 crore to purchase the books in different disciplines.
“A committee of experts has decided on the books that can be borrowed by the students and used by teachers. However, we have not chosen any of the religious books for purchases this year,’’ added the official.
Education Minister, Altaf Bukhari, said that he was busy with the Legislative Council elections. Both Commissioner Secretary Education, Shaleen Kabra, and Director Education Kashmir, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan, were unavailable for comment. A senior education department official however, said that they will look into the matter.