Political leaders from J&K accused the central government of pushing the “Hindutva agenda” in J&K soon after a video went viral on social media, allegedly showing students and teachers in a school in Kashmir singing a ‘Hindu hymn’.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was among those who shared the video in a tweet, stating “Jailing religious scholars, shutting down Jama Masjid & directing school kids here to sing Hindu hymns exposes the real hindutva agenda of GOI in Kashmir. Refusing these rabid dictates invites PSA & UAPA. It is the cost that we are paying for this so-called “Badalta J&K”.
Senior leader and state spokesperson of the National Conference, Imran Nabi Dar, also shared the same video, questioning whether the educational institutions in Kashmir have been turned into a “political tool”.
Link to the tweet here
We found that the same video was posted by many others on social media along with claiming that “Modi’s Hindutva regime is forcing Muslim children to chant Hindu devotional songs”. You can check the tweets here, here, and here
Facebook users also shared the same video terming the video as worrying for Kashmir. A Facebook user Syed Sana, has shared the video that has garnered over 90K views, 644 comments and 2.1k shares.
More such posts can be seen here and here on Facebook.
The video is also shared on YouTube as shown below.
On closely analysing the viral video, one can see a board right in the first few frames of the video. It clearly reads ‘Govt High School, Nagam, Kulgam’. It also states “Zone: D.H. Pora” and ‘Estt 1950’, suggesting it has been running for over 70 years. Nagam area is located in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
Speaking to Newschecker, Gulzar Ahmad Beig, the deputy headmaster of the school, confirmed that the viral video was indeed recorded inside the school premises and revealed that the singing was part of the preparations for the upcoming Gandhi Jayanti celebrations. “Different activities were slated to be held in the run-up to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2. This was being held as per a government directive,” he told Newschecker.
We further contacted the Chief Education Officer of Kulgam, Mohammad Ashraf Rather, who confirmed that the activity happened as per government directive. “This is part of a prayer for the upcoming Gandhi Jayanti event, which is to be celebrated on October 2. Govt has directed all govt schools to prepare for the Gandhi Jayanti,” Md Ashraf told us.
‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ A Hindu Hymn?
Popularly called Ramdhun, it is a famous devotional hymn originally written by 17th-century Vaishnava poet Lakshmanacharya. It was later modified by Mahatma Gandhi and was used during the Dandi march. The full lyrics of the hymn can be read on the website of Gandhi Sevagram Ashram, which was founded by Mahatama Gandhi in 1936 in Maharashtra, under the title of ‘Gandhiji’s Favourite Hymns’.
The third stanza of Gandhi’s version of the hymn reads ‘Ishwar Allah Tero Nam, Sabako Sanmati De Bhagawan’ which translates to ‘Iswar and Allah are your names / May God bestow wisdom on all’ indicating the secular nature of the hymn.
In his book Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence, historian and author Vinay Lal writes, “Narayan Desai, the son of Gandhi’s beloved secretary, Mahadev Desai, spent some years of his childhood around Gandhi and later recalled that the Ramdhun seemed to have become popular during the Salt March and the subsequent civil disobedience movement, and it continues to resonate strongly, and not only among devout Hindus, in contemporary India.”
“Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and the practitioners of other faiths may all know God by different names, but Gandhi did not doubt that behind this multifariousness in form there was one essential unity”, Lal writes.
Further research highlights the secular pitch of the song. “Clearly modified with a view to spreading the message of reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims, the song was set to tune by the renowned musicologist, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar,” reads a report on the famous hymn published by Firstpost.
The claim that ‘Govrnment of India is pushing Hindutva agenda by forcing Muslim students in Kashmir to sing a “Hindu” hymn is misleading. The video shows students and teachers preparing for the upcoming Gandhi Jayanti celebrations based on the directive from the UT administration. Further, the Ramdhun is considered a secular, all-faith prayer popularised by Mahatma Gandhi.
Result: Missing Context
1. Gandhi Sevagram Ashram website accessed on 20th September 2022
2. Firstpost report dated 2nd October 2019. Archived Link here.
3. Statement of Chief Education Officer, Kulgam as stated in a phone conversation with Newschecker.
4. Statement of Deputy Headmaster of the school, as stated in a phone conversation with Newschecker.
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