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MP madrassas boycott Iskcon's mid-day meals

MP madrassas boycott Iskcon's mid-day meals

Author: Suchandana Gupta
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 17, 2007
URL: http://www1.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2286310.cms

[Note from the Hindu Vivek Kendra: The Muslims have no problems about taking money for going to Haj, or demanding that their education, etc., be subsidised, by using funds provided by the Indian state. Part of these funds are obtained by using the offerings by the Hindus in the temples, and part of it comes from taxing the Hindus.]

Madrassas in Ujjain have boycotted the Madhya Pradesh government's mid-day meal scheme for students on the ground that the food is being prepared by Iskcon, the Hindu religious organisation spreading Krishna consciousness throughout the world.

The madrassas in Ujjain, 200 km from Bhopal, have demanded that raw materials for food, and funds be given directly to them so that they can prepare mid-day meals for students. Muslim clerics argued that food prepared by Iskcon is first offered to Lord Jagannath as 'bhog' (offering) before being distributed among the students.

"We can't accept this as it hurts our religious sentiments," Ujjain Qazi Khaleeq-ur-Rahman told TOI .

"Minister of state for education Paras Jain came here and lectured us that we needed to change our mentality. We want to specify that the matter is far above mentality. It is our faith. How can our students eat a meal which has been served to a Hindu god?"

Iskcon, however, denied that the food prepared for madrassa students is offered to Lord Jagannath. Iskcon's spokesman in Ujjain Raghav Das said, "According to our understanding with the Ujjain Municipal Corporation, we supply prepared food to 22,000 students in town. We make 66,000 'chapatis', 140 kg of vegetables (curry) and 45 kg of lentils (dal) per day. We then take just one 'thali' from the kitchen to the temple of Lord Jagannath. The rest of the food is not taken to the temple. It is transported from our kitchens to the schools."

Iskcon has been preparing midday meals for schools in urban areas since July. "We constructed a kitchen large enough to prepare the mid-day meals for more than 20,000 students. Keeping hygienic conditions in mind, we even got automatic roti makers which prepare 10,000 rotis per hour. We are not in this for profit."

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