Pre-meal prayer orders in state-run schools of MP generate controversy

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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Aug 1(ANI): The directive issued by the Madhya Pradesh Government on reciting 'Bhojan mantra', a Hindu chant before partaking of midday meals by students in the state-run schools, has stirred a controversy as Muslims claim it to be against their belief.

The directive by the state government that would come into force from September 5, 2009, has stirred controversy as Muslims say it should not be forced on them.

"Government has directed that every child in the state-run schools will have to do their pre meal prayers. The non-Muslim children can offer their prayers as they have the right to do it as per their religious beliefs. But one should not force the same on children who belong to Muslim religion, Christian religion, Buddhism or Jainism. They will have their own beliefs," said Osaaf Shahmiri Khurram, Chairman, All India Muslim Festival Committee.

Meanwhile, the State Education Minister, Archana Chitnis, feels that there is nothing wrong in the directive, as it is a simple prayer to thank the God.

"This 'Bhojan Mantra' is in Hindi and easy to understand. It is to thank God for the food and attain knowledge after eating the food so that one can do something for their country. The pre meal prayers revolve around the same. If someone considers praying for the sake of contribution towards the country as a wrong move, then we can't change their mindset," said Archana Chitnis.

Several Muslim organisations and leaders including Hafiz Saghir Jilani Chishti of Jamiat Ulema Chishtia, Maulana Javed of Jamiat Ahle Quraish and Muslim Raeen Panchayat's Noorul Islam have voiced their opposition against the move. (ANI)

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