Rama Krishna Sangem
The entire world has seen how a girl student with hizab in a Karnataka government college was heckled by a group of male students. Leave alone the merits of wearing hijab, a head covering by Muslim women. The picture of several boys shouting and chasing a girl haunted us all. Now, there are protests all over the country for and against hijab.
It is a fact that Muslim girls and women wear hijab in public places. We also know, BJP or saffron outfits in general oppose this practice, on the grounds of religious propagation. Some right wing intellectuals say, hijab is a way of confining Muslim women to four walls of their homes. In a way, this is an oppression of Muslim women’s rights, they say.
Some Muslim intellectuals like the late Asghar Ali Engineer have said the choice of wearing hijab should be left to Muslim women, not others. It’s none of others’ job. Interestingly, several Muslim girls who participated in a protest in Hyderabad against Karnataka incident said hijab is their right. A girl said banning hijab is a violation of Article 25 of Constitution of India. She is right.
Karnataka government led by BJP and its supporters say educational institutions should not be allowed for religious practices. Every student should follow a dress code as decided by the schools and colleges. They have a point. But, this dress code should not be forced on religious minorities. We have seen how Sikhs protested against wearing turban in the UK, Canada etc.
Polarisation is solution
Ironically, many non-Muslims including supporters of BJP too feel this entire controversy over hijab is unnecessary and meaningless. There shall not be any row over a religious practice of an ethnic group or minorities. A Hindu boy or girl wearing tilak should be a controversy just as a Muslim girl covering her head in public.
BJP and its front organisation do not understand that their ways of securing public support through religious polarisation is not a good idea. Many Hindus too don’t like this kind of controversies. Particularly, victimising Muslim girl students in colleges or schools shall be condemned. See, how a large crowd of boys with saffron flags chased a single girl. Of course, she gave a strong reply to them