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Hijab issue raised by those wanting obedient daughter, submissive sister, sanskari bahu

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

The incidents happening in the southern part of Karnataka are deeply distressing and need to be resolved at the earliest. Unfortunately, rather than resolving the issue, the current regime has wanted to escalate it further, and as its modus operandi, the ruling party has encouraged students to counter demand of the Muslim girls wearing Hijab by offering saffron scarves.
Friends were converted into foes in a short span of time, as those who want to reap the benefits of division are determined to have their way. This is bound to happen when those who have least respect for the Constitution and for an inclusive nationalist movement, encourage people towards divisive politics, as it has ‘paid’ them full dividends. The Right to Education (RTE) is meant for all, irrespective of faith and choice of clothes.irr
On one hand, Hindutva protagonists want Hindu women to follow ‘tradition’, glamorizing all the symbols of regression as ‘culture’, blaming ‘western’ influence on our culture, beating up and harassing women wearing jeans or T-shirts. On the other, many of those who do it sit in the western world trolling women who speak for themselves in the most vulgar and filthy language.
Their ideal woman, in their view, is the one who multitasks, who should be an ‘obedient’ daughter, a submissive sister, a ‘sanskari’ bahu, and a mother-in-law who harasses the daughter in law for the sake of her son.
Oppression within Hindu society not their agenda. They don't talk about women dying of dowry, untouchability and caste discrimination. Their heart does not sink when female infanticide takes place and when women at young age are molested and harassed. All this has never been the Sangh Parivar agenda. The only agenda they have is to find holes in the Muslim and Christian social-cultural systems.
While the issue of hijab and veils is important, that should emerge from the Muslim community. Like sindoor and mangalsutra being worn by Hindu women as their identity, Muslim women use hijab as identity.
When a community is pushed to isolation, right-wing regressive forces emerge. Hijab was defended by a girl who can speak as boldly as anyone. Keeping her head high, she was seen driving a two wheeler as confidently as anyone.
Sikhs wear turban and kripan which is part of their culture. There are many societies in the western world, where issues of identities have been challenged through a new ‘national’ identity but it is always a complex issue. France is facing this at the moment. UK and USA grappled with the issue, but they mixed hijab with Burqa.
The hijab issue can be resolved if voices emerge from within the community. It is not that the community does not change, but when "outsiders" determinedly harass and embarrass the community to do away with it, it turns into its religious right.
The Karantaka government must not allow it to escalate as a Hindu-Muslim issue. It must allow girls to attend classes as usual. India will be best governed through a secular Constitution when those responsible for rule of law and Constitution are impartial and committed to their core values. Propagating deeply orthodox Brahminical values while opposing other religious practices is pure hypocrisy.
Those who claim that the burqa issue is another Shahbano case must remember that it was imposed all of a sudden on the Muslim girls. They should decide whether our state-funded schools and colleges should remain absolutely secular without allowing any core value of any religion to be promoted. Converting government schools into a den of Brahminical cultural practices and then preaching ‘morality’ of ‘modernism’ is absolute hypocrisy.
One knows who is behind this and what is their aimed. The situation in Uttar Pradesh is becoming difficult, hence every effort is being made to create this crisis as an opportunity to vilify the community and blame all those who speak for their rights as anti-national.
It is time the Supreme Court takes a suo motu cognizance of it and defend the rights of these girls. It should either ban all kind of religious symbols in government schools or fix up a minimum code of conduct so that no one is punished because of identity or cultural practices.
Shouting Jai Shri Ram or Allaho Akbar to fight and harass each other won't help. One hopes school authorities and the Karnataka government will ensure that no untoward incident happens.
Surely, protests by the boys and girls against Hijab are not spontaneous and there are forces behind them. Nothing will happen to those in power, as they have decided to bring these issues to gain politically. Hence, only the Supreme Court can bring order to what is happening. But will it act?
---
*Human rights defender. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat; twitter: @freetohumanity

Comments

Unknown said…
Mr. Rawat's argument is absolutely justifiable. Before 42nd amendment of our constitution in 1976, India was not a secular nation. But all religious groups usually followed their very own religious practices or 'cultures'. There was rarely any conflict or debate on religious practice issue. Now we live in a highly politicalized society where politics for pill gain get priority. Anyway, according to the 'Right to Education' no one can be victim in education in religious grounds. Then why Madrassah Education system till exists. Is it not a bad system of making a difference Muslim from others? Can we support this discrimination?

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