Is India for Hindus only? Bombay HC Pointedly asks BJP-led Nagpur Civic Body

The BJP-led Civic Body in Nagpur's Plan to have the "Hanuman Chalisa" recited at an AIDS-awareness program in Nagpur tomorrow, April 7 provoked this response from the Bombay High Court: "Is India for Hindus only?"

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Expressing strong reservations over the move to recite 'Hanuman Chaalisa' at an AIDS awareness programme, the Bombay High Court today asked the BJP-ruled Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) if, according to it, "India is for Hindus only". The Nagpur bench of the court was hearing a PIL. It asked the civic body "whether India is for Hindus only" and expressed anguish over the plan to recite Hindu mantras at an AIDS awareness event. A Division Bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Swapna Joshi disposed of the PIL filed by former corporator Janardan Moon, after both the NMC and programme convener Dayashankar Tiwari, who is the ruling party –BJP's– leader in the civic body, agreed to disassociate with the two events (AIDS awareness and Hanuman Chalisa event), and pay the cost of stage and ground to be used for the event on pro-rata basis.

The event, in association with Poddareshwar Ram Mandir Trust, was planned at the city's Kasturchand Park ground on Thursday, April 7.

"Why only recital of Hanuman Chaalisa and why not from the Quran, the Bible or other religious literature? What is the relationship between AIDS awareness and Hanuman Chaalisa? Is it only Hindus who contract AIDS? Is chanting of Hanuman Chalisa the only remedy for eradication of this deadly disease?" the division bench of justices Bhushan Gavai and Swapna Joshi said.

"If people can come for this event, they will also come for recitation of the Quran and Bible," they observed.    

The municipal corporation in Nagpur is run by the BJP. The municipal corporation, following the PIL was compelled to agree to delink the two events by keeping at least an hour between the AIDS awareness programme and the Hanuman Chalisa recitation, which over 1.5 lakh people are expected to attend. The Judges based in Nagpur said that they are not against any religious programme, but are concerned about government agencies associating with these.   

The court further directed to ensure that separate banners are put up backstage during both the programmes, with the individual names of organisers. The corporation was also asked to give wide publicity to its AIDS awareness programme, without mentioning the Hanuman Chalisa event.






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