Karnataka Hijab controversy: Will the Supreme Court act?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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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 wanted to escalate it further and as the modus operandi is, the ruling party encouraged the students to counter the demand of the Muslim girls wearing Hijab with saffron scarves. Friends were converted into foes in a short span of time as those who want to reap the benefits of divisions are determined to do so. It will always happen when those who have the least respect for the constitution and for an inclusive nationalist movement, will always encourage people towards divisive tendencies as it has been ‘paying’ them fully. The country needs to understand that those who want to change the constitution will do everything to discredit it and change it accordingly through amendments that are in total contrast with its Preamble and original thoughts.

The right to education is meant for all irrespective of their faith and choice of clothes. On the one hand, Hindutva protagonists want Hindu women to follow ‘tradition’ and have been glamorizing all the symbols of regression as ‘culture’, blaming the ‘western’ influence on our culture and beating up and harassing women wearing Jeans or T-Shirts. Many of them are sitting in the Western world trolling women who speak for themselves in the most vulgar and filthy language. Their ideal woman is the one who multitasks, who should be an ‘obedient’ daughter, a submissive sister, a ‘sanskari’ bahu, a terrifying mother in law who harasses the daughter in law for the sake of her son. Oppression within Hindu society never becomes their agenda. Women dying of dowery, untouchability, caste discrimination have rarely been their agenda. Their heart does not sink when the female infanticide takes place and when women at a young age are molested and harassed. All this has never been the Sangh Parivar agenda. The only agenda they have to find holes in the Muslim and Christian social-cultural system.

While the issue of Hijab and veils too is important but that should emerge from the Muslim community. Like Sindoor and Mangal Sutra being worn by Hindu women as her identity, Muslim women too use Hijab as her identity today. When a community is pushed to isolation then it will be the right-wing regressive forces that will emerge. Interestingly, the Hijab was defended by a girl who can speak as boldly as anyone and with keeping her head high and driving a two-wheeler as confidently as anyone. The Sikhs wear turban and Kripan which is part of their culture. Of course, 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. All these issues can be resolved if the voices emerge from the community. It is not that the community does not change but when the outsiders who are determined to harass and embarrass the community seek to do away with it, then it is the religious rights that will dominate the debate.

Karnataka government must not allow this issue to escalate as a Hindu Muslim issue. Please allow the girls to attend the classes as usual. India will be best governed through a secular constitution when those responsible for rule of law and the constitution themselves are impartial and committed to its core values. Don’t allow your children to suffer in hatred as it will take us nowhere.

We need secular education which includes good practices from all religions, ethnicities and not so religious people such as humanists, atheists, sceptics too. Propagating deeply orthodox Brahmanical values while opposing other religious practices is pure hypocrisy.

Those who claim that the Burqa issue is another ‘Shahbano’ must remember that this issue was imposed all of a sudden on the Muslim girls. Either decide that our state-funded schools and colleges remain absolutely secular so you cant bring any core value of any religion or promote multiculturalism through them. Converting government schools into den of  Brahmanical cultural practices and then preaching ‘morality’ of ‘modernism’ is absolute hypocrisy.

We know who is behind this and what is it aimed at. The situation in Uttar Pradesh is becoming difficult and 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 should take a suo moto cognizance of it and defend the rights of these girls. Either ban all kinds of religious symbols in the government schools or fix up a minimum code of conduct so that it does punish anyone because of her identity and cultural practices.

It will not be great to shout Jai Shri Ram or Allah o Akbar to fight and harass each other. The Muslim girl shouted this as she was being harassed. It is sad and we hope school authorities and the Karnataka government will ensure that no untoward incident happens. Definitely, the protests by the boys and girls were not spontaneous but there are forces behind it. We know nothing will happen to them as those in power have decided to bring these issues to gain from it politically and only the Supreme Court can bring this to order. Will the Court act?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

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