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Hijab hate: Support pours in for senior advocate

Devadatt Kamat has been at the receiving end of the campaign for representing petitioners seeking the right to wear head scarfs
Devadatt Kamat.
Devadatt Kamat.
File photo

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore   |   Published 16.02.22, 03:49 AM

A senior advocate has been at the receiving end of a hate campaign for representing petitioners seeking the right to wear the hijab but he has also received support from a seer, a rationalist and a Supreme Court lawyers’ forum.

Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, who is arguing the case against the bar on the hijab at several educational institutions before a three-judge bench of Karnataka High Court, has been condemned by the Right wing for taking up a “Muslim cause” despite being a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin from Uttara Kannada district.

An anonymous message has been circulating on social media seeking the immediate excommunication of Kamat from the community, commonly known as the Konkani samaj.

But Swami Bhaveshanand of Ramakrishna Ashram in Karwar, Uttara Kannada district, has backed Kamat, saying he is merely fulfilling his responsibility as a lawyer. The seer noted that the perception that Kamat was working against the Hindu religion was “uncalled for and baseless”.

“Some elements are trying to project him as someone supporting a cause against the Hindu religion. This perception is absolutely uncalled for and baseless. A lawyer representing a client in court has to do his duty and justice to his client’s cause. That is a professional duty and responsibility. It cannot be branded as a cause against the Hindu religion,” the seer said in a statement.

The Supreme Court Young Lawyers Forum on Tuesday denounced the attacks on Kamat. “A lawyer is under a bounden duty to represent a client and present the case to the best of his/ her ability. Any sort of attack on a lawyer on the choice of his/ her brief amounts to a serious obstruction of justice and deserves to be condemned,” the forum said.

The president of the Indian Rationalists Association, Narendra Nayak, who too belongs to the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community, came out in support of Kamat.

“The (Konkani) samaj is not the ancestral property of any individual or group of individuals holding the political views of a particular party or organisation. I am herein openly supporting Sri Devadatt Kamat and his right to represent any views political, religious or social. The GSB community is not the property of any individual groups, maths or any political parties,” he said in a statement.

Constitutional law expert Gautam Bhatia complimented Kamat for arguing the case. “Credit to Devdutt Kamat, I think he argued a bad hand about as well as he could have. Bad because of the mess that is Indian essential religious practices jurisprudence,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

While many have called Kamat a “hijabi lawyer”, some others have accused him of being “sponsored” by the Congress since he is chairman of the party’s recently set up legal coordination committee for the Uttar Pradesh elections.

BJP national general secretary C.T. Ravi linked the lawyers representing the petitioners in the hijab case to the Congress.

“Who are the lawyers appearing in the #HijabRow? Kapil Sibal — senior CONgress leader, Devadatt Kamat — CONgress functionary, Ravi Varma Kumar — beneficiary of CONgress. Is it a coincidence that CONgress lawyers are representing petitioners in a communally sensitive case?” he tweeted.

Some critics accused Kamat of securing a letter of support from Swami Bhaveshanand, the Ramakrishna Ashram seer. “He shamefully got a letter from RK Math to support him as he thought it would cleanse everything with Ganga Snaanam (bath),” tweeted one Srinivas Manooru.

A woman who tweets as Alpaca Girl commented: “I am sorry on behalf of the Konkani community…. He doesn’t represent us unapologetic Sanatani Hindus from the community.”

Twitter user Narayan Rao offered the counterview. “I am also a Konkani, and on behalf of the community, I am sorry for all the bigots who voted for Modi and think the BJP will save Hindus and Hinduism,” Rao wrote.

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