With the decision of providing its Muslim employees a special 90-minute break for Friday prayers getting embroiled in controversy, the Harish Rawat government today said state employees, irrespective of their religion, caste and creed, will be allowed "special short breaks" to offer prayers during their festivals if they make a request for it.
"A decision has been taken to allow special short breaks to state employees of all communities, creeds and castes for prayers, religious occasions and festivals. It will be given only if they make a request," Surendra Kumar, media advisor to the CM, said in a statement.
"The Chief Minister took the decision in view of the spurt in demands for holidays by state employees belonging to different religions and communities on festivals and religious occasions," he said.
The announcement came two days after the state cabinet allowed a two-hour break for government staff to offer Namaz on Fridays.
The cabinet's decision to allow a special two-hour Friday break for Muslim employees had drawn flak from the opposition parties, including BJP, which had accused the government of indulging in "minority appeasement" ahead of Assembly polls.
The decision had not gone down well with the BJP which is in opposition in the state with the party’s spokesperson Nalini Kohli on Monday questioning the Uttarakhand government’s move, charging the government with indulging in vote-bank politics.
“What if Hindu community says it needs two-hour break for Shiv Puja on Monday or on Tuesday for lord Hanuman or on Sunday for Sun god,” BJP’s Kohli had said.
The government had, however, defended its decision saying it was taken keeping in mind the problems faced by the Muslim community.