The Shiv Sena on Wednesday, 1 May, distanced itself from an editorial in its mouthpiece “Saamana” that called for a ban on burqas in public places.
“Every policy decision is discussed in the leader’s meeting or announced by (party president) Uddhav Thackerayji,” spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said in a statement.
“Today’s editorial has neither been discussed nor been announced by Uddhavji and thus it may be a personal opinion of the editor on the current affairs in Sri Lanka.”
The Sena had, earlier in the day, called for a ban on the use of burqa by women of a particular community as it threw its weight behind a similar plan being mulled by the Sri Lankan government in the wake of the Easter terror strikes, which claimed over 250 lives.
"This restriction has been recommended as an emergency measure to ensure the security forces do not encounter difficulties in identifying anybody. People wearing face-masks or burqas could pose a threat to national security," said the Sena in an editorial in the party mouthpieces, "Saamana" and "Dopahar Ka Saamana".
The Daily Mirror had quoted sources on Tuesday saying the Sri Lankan government was planning to implement the move in consultation with the mosque authorities and that several ministers had spoken to President Maithripala Sirisena on the matter.
It had been pointed out that 'burqa' and 'niqab' were never part of the traditional attire of Muslim women in Sri Lanka until the Gulf war in the early 1990s "which saw extremist elements introducing the garb to Muslim women", the daily said.
A number of female accomplices of the suicide bombers in Dematagoda, a Colombo neighbourhood, where three policemen were killed, too had allegedly escaped wearing burqas, reports had said.
‘Not All Who Wear Burqa Are Terrorists’
Reacting sharply to the Sena’s call, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said that “not all women who wear burqa are terrorists”.
“If they are terrorists, their burqa should be removed. It's a tradition and they have the right to wear it, there shouldn't be a ban on burqa in India,” Athawale added, as per ANI.
Bangladeshi-Swedish author Taslima Nasreen, meanwhile, echoed Sena’s call for a ban, saying that it won't stop terrorism but will “definitely stop women from being faceless zombies”.
Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief, however, slammed Shiv Sena's proposal.
“Shiv Sena is ignorant, SC judgment on privacy clearly lays down that choice is now a fundamental right. It's a violation of the MCC, I request EC to take immediate note of it... it's an attempt to create polarisation,” he said, as per ANI.
Others on Twitter also criticised the party for its views.
(With inputs from ANI, IANS, Daily Mirror.)