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India Is a Secular Nation, We Should Behave Accordingly: Ajit Pawar on Hijab Row

Gandhi's tweet comes after clashes broke out in Karnataka, as saffron-clad students protested against the hijab.

Updated
India
3 min read
India Is a Secular Nation, We Should Behave Accordingly: Ajit Pawar on Hijab Row
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As tensions escalate in Karnataka over Hindu boys protesting against Muslim girls wearing the hijab in educational institutions, Maharasthra Deputy CM, Ajit Pawar, said on Thursday, 10 February, "Our country is a secular country and we should behave accordingly."

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Wednesday, 9 February, also tweeted, “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.”

With the hashtag, “#ladkihoonladsaktihoon”, Gandhi added, “This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women. (sic)”

Her tweet comes a day after clashes broke out in Karnataka, as Muslim women wearing the hijab were met with opposition from saffron-clad protesters, who were demonstrating against the wearing of hijab in classrooms. The matter is sub judice in the Karnataka High Court.

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had also tweeted in support of the Muslim girls on Saturday, 5 February, by saying, “By letting students’ hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India.”

With the hashtag, ‘#SaraswatiPuja’, Gandhi had added, “Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn’t differentiate.”

K Kavitha, Member of Legislative Council, Trinamool Congress (TRS), said that others have no right to interfere in a woman's personal choice.

She said on Thursday, "Such religious talks hinder opportunities for female students. Let's keep politics out of schools and colleges. I'm a married woman, I put vermilion whenever I want, it's a choice. As a society, we've no right to interfere in their personal choice."

Opposition Stages Walkout From Lok Sabha

Meanwhile, several Opposition parties including Congress, DMK, IUML, CPM, CPI, VCK, MDMK, and JMM had staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had reasoned, "We asked the government to give a statement on the atrocities being committed on the Muslim girls in Karnataka and other places in the name of hijab. But govt did not pay heed to our demand, so we staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha."

Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had said, "Wearing uniform is a routine thing, why are they making it an issue? And when school has issued a guideline, everyone should follow it. What is the fuss about it? Undertakings have also been given by students and their parents to follow the dress code.”

Joshi had added that some “politicians and fanatics have made it an issue”.

Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray said on Wednesday, "Where there is a prescribed uniform in schools/colleges, it should be followed. Only education should be the focus at centers of education. Religious or political issues should not be brought to schools/colleges."

Meanwhile, other leaders such as Shashi Tharoor and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah have also spoken out against the protests.

Siddaramaiah said in a series of tweets, "The issue around Hijab and Kesari is highly concerning and leading to tussle among students. Schools and Colleges are turning into a battlefield. Police have become mute spectators without taking action against those causing trouble. Parents are anxious about this. (sic)"

Further, he blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for instigating students and stated that students are "suffering because of BJP Karnataka's ulterior motives".

Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik, on his part, also said that it is a "fundamental right of everyone to choose what to eat and what to wear." Further, he added:

"BJP and RSS are creating an issue over hijab. Are they frustrated that Muslim girls are going to colleges and making their place in society?"
Nawab Malik

However, BJP MP Hema Malini on Tuesday was quoted by ANI as saying:

"Schools are for education and religious matters should not be taken there. Every school has a uniform that should be respected. You can wear whatever you want outside the school."

The row over hijab began over a month ago when the principal of a government PU college in Udupi district in Karnataka stopped Muslim girls from entering the campus as they were wearing hijabs.

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