Karnataka hijab row: Priyanka blasts govt
The shine of India’s Silicon Valley stands sullied by a sordidly communal campaign targeting Muslim women’s right to wear a headscarf.
Home to India’s information technology capital, Karnataka has of late been receiving a lot of negative attention because of the Sangh parivar’s war on Muslim girls wearing the hijab to educational institutions.
With college after college refusing entry to hijab-wearing girls, ignoring their tearful requests to allow them to study, and sections of saffron-sporting students launching a truculent drive to heckle and harass Muslim women fighting for their rights, the worst fears of the Opposition Congress have come true.
Congress leaders had been warning chief minister Basavaraj Bommai of the BJP to tackle the crisis before it spiralled out of control. Bommai, instead, allowed the matter to fester and eventually blow up in his face with protests in educational institutions snowballing into a violent statewide agitation on Tuesday.
Saffron-clad youths heckled and hounded hijab-wearing girls and fought pitched street battles with riot police. The widespread violence forced the state government to snap out of its slumber and shut down all educational institutions for the rest of the week as Karnataka High Court heard a petition from a Muslim student seeking her constitutional right to wear clothing mandated by her religion.
A single bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit on Wednesday referred the matter to a larger bench, citing the involvement of personal law and overruling advocate-general Prabhuling Navadgi’s contention that the petition was not maintainable. The court, however, did not grant interim relief to the petitioner to attend classes wearing the hijab pending the disposal of the matter.
The hijab row has attracted international attention with Malala Yusafzai, Nobel laureate and advocate for girls’ education, broaching the controversy rocking Karnataka. “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women,” she tweeted.
“College is forcing us to choose between studies and the hijab”.— Malala (@Malala) February 8, 2022
Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women. https://t.co/UGfuLWAR8I
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also took to Twitter to express her angst. “Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat, a pair of jeans or a hijab, it is a woman’s right to decide what she wants to wear. This right is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Stop harassing women,” she commented.
Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat, a pair of jeans or a hijab, it is a woman’s right to decide what she wants to wear.— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) February 9, 2022
This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women. #ladkihoonladsaktihoon
The extent of the barbarity of the campaign was on full display on Tuesday when a college student was jeered and hounded by about 50 students and Sangh parivar activists for turning up in college in a hijab.
Bibi Muskan, a second-year BCom student of PES College of Science, Arts and Commerce in Mandya, confronted the men waving saffron scarves and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” and fought back with chants of “Allah hu Akbar”.
Rights activist Teesta Setalvad lauded Muskan’s bravery. “Muskan a true daughter of India & d world. Raw courage! Saluts!” she tweeted. P.C. Siddaramaiah of the Congress sought an investigation into Tuesday’s unrest.
“Let @BJP4Karnataka govt investigate & let the people know who is behind Hijab-Kesari controversy. The whole world is watching live & clearly knows who the face of the controversy is. When will the govt take action against them, @CMofKarnataka?” Siddaramaiah tweeted.