The opposition BJP in Bihar on Saturday sought to corner the Nitish Kumar government over its decision to advance duty hours of Muslim staff by an hour during the Ramadan period, alleging that the government was being run by officials owing allegiance to JD(U) and RJD who believed in the ideology of the proscribed Popular Front of India (PFI).
On Friday, the general administration department (GAD) issued an order advancing duty hours for Muslim employees of the state government by an hour for the month-long Roja (Ramadan) period and directed the home department to modify the biometric attendance system in offices. Biometric attendance was made mandatory for all staff later last year.
State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal on Saturday said such an order would certainly help the PFI fulfil the objective of making India an Islamic country by 2045. “This is very much part of the agenda being run by chief minister Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav,” he told reporters in Patna.
A few months ago, PFI was banned by the union government for a period of five years.
JD-U and Congress leaders hit back. “By doing so, Jaiswal is also assaulting the leaders of the party’s margdarshak mandal,” JD-U spokesman and former minister Neeraj Kumar said, apparently referring to Muslim leaders in BJP.
Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Ajeet Sharma said it was a practice to give relief to the followers of Islamic faith during the month of Ramadan as they have a fixed time for offering prayers. “Hindus too are given enough liberty during their festival periods,” he said.
Principal secretary (GAD) B Rajender said the department has been routinely issuing such orders (advancing duty hours) for Muslim staff ahead of Ramadan every year since 2000.
Another official at GAD said it had to issue a specific order this year as the biometric attendance system needed to modified to protect salary of the Muslim employees and officials.