Rajat Sharma

Who brainwashed some Muslim girls over ‘hijab’?

rajat-sirAs the ‘hijab’ controversy gained momentum with protests held by Muslims in several cities of India on Friday, the Supreme Court said it would take up all petitions relating to at the appropriate time.

Chief Justice of India Justice N V Ramanna said, “we are watching what is happening. You also should think whether it is proper to bring these things at the national level. We are constitutionally bound and will protect if there is violation of fundamental or constitutional rights, not just of one but every community. We will intervene at the appropriate time.”

The CJI said, “right now, we do not want to express anything on merit. Do not push these issues to a larger level…Let us not make it communal or political, and let the High Court decide the constitutional question first.”

The bench of Chief Justice Ramanna, Justice A S Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli was responding to senior advocate Kapil Sibal’s plea for early hearing of petitions filed by two more Muslim girl students challenging the Karnataka HC interim order which barred wearing of religious dresses in educational institutions where wearing of uniform is prescribed.

The petitions had been filed by two Muslim students Aishat Shifa and Thairn Begam, and Youth Congress president B V Srinivas seeking enforcement of “religious right” of Muslims. Karnataka High Court bench will take up the matter for further hearing on Monday.

Meanwhile, protests were held in cities like Surat, Malegaon, Aligarh, Amrawati and Latur on Friday, while imams in many of the mosques in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bhopal and Ludhiana spoke on this issue defending the right to wear ‘hijab’ by Muslim students.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind held a large meeting of Muslim women in Malegaon, Maharashtra, on Friday where thousands of women wearing ‘burqa’ were told by speakers that wearing of veil was their religious right and duty. The speakers said, it was the prophet’s directive that all Muslim women must wear ‘burqa’ or ‘hijab’, and no law on earth can stop this. Jamiat had given a call for observing ‘Hijab Day’ on Friday, and security was beefed up in Nashik and Malegaon.

The Malegaon meeting was addressed by AIMIM MLA Mufti Ismail. Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party also organised a protest in Malegaon. AIMIM organised a protest dharna by Muslim women outside the district collectorate in Amrawati. In Udgir, near Latur, Maharashtra, Jamiat organised a protest by Muslim women over ‘hijab’. AIMIM brought out a silent march by women protesters in Surat, Gujarat. At the Handiwali Masjid in Bhindi Bazar, Mumbai, devout Muslims attending Friday prayers wore black bands as a mark of protest.

And now, a look at what progressive Muslim intellectuals think on this issue. Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan in an interview to India TV on Friday, pointed out that “the interest of Muslim women will be adversely affected if ‘hijab’ is accepted as an essential practice by society. Muslim women will start suffering from inferiority complex. The ultimate loser will be the nation, which will be deprived of the good work being done by Muslim women in work places”.

Arif Mohammed Khan said, “If ‘hijab’ is accepted as a social norm, we will be going back to the old days when the role of women was confined to their homes, “chiraag-e-khaana” (lamp inside the home),or gatherings like “shamm-e-mefil” (entertainer at a gathering). What will happen to the modern Muslim woman, who looks after 20 patients on a single day? Will you call her a ‘chiraag-e-khana’? She is a ‘chraag’ (light) for the society. Will you call women ‘shamm-e-mehfil’ who are today flying fighter aeroplanes and are ready to offer their lives for the nation?”

In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night, we showed how an extremist Muslim outfit brainwashed some Muslim girl students and made them raise the ‘hijab’ issue. These girls, who had earlier taken part in a protest march by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, were asked by Islamic extremists to shun ABVP and join a Muslim students’ outfit. This was done after careful planning. One must note that all the six Muslim girl students of Udupi pre-university college who insisted on wearing ‘hijab’ inside classrooms, are active members of CFI (Campus Front of India), a Muslim students’ outfit.

Their chronology is interesting. On October 29 last year, three out of these six Muslim girls took part in an ABVP protest in Manipal, Udupi protesting a rape incident. There are images and videos which show the presence of these Muslim girls at the protest. Our Bengaluru correspondent T. Raghavan reports that soon after these images appeared, SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) and PFI (Popular Front of India), both Muslim outfits active in the South, contacted the families of these three Muslim girls and requested their parents to ask the girls to dissociate themselves from ABVP. The girls were advised that taking part in such demonstrations is not permissible in Islam. They were told that if they wanted to be socially active, they should work for the “protection of Islam”.

On November 7, six girls from Udupi college, including these three, were admitted as members of CFI, which acts as the students’ wing of PFI. Earlier, these girls had no social media accounts, but in the first week of November, they opened Twitter accounts and started posting issues that were raised by CFI.

According to a social media activist Vijay Patel, soon after the girls became active on Twitter, they showed proclivities towards fundamentalism. They started publicizing CFI’s agenda on social media. In the first week of December, the six girls started attending college classrooms, wearing ‘hijab’. When the college teachers objected, they gave a memorandum to the Udupi deputy commissioner demanding that they be allowed to wear ‘hijab’ in college.

The DC initially allowed them to wear ‘hijab’ in order to ensure peace, but soon Hindu boys studying in the college started protesting. They came to college wearing saffron scarves. From December 27, these Muslim girls staged ‘dharna’ outside the campus by wearing ‘hijab’. They were assisted by CFI supporters. This controversy soon spread to other colleges of Udupi and a hijab versus saffron tug-of-war began. Political parties made an entry, and soon the protests spread across Karnataka, and it made headlines both in India and abroad. The situation now has come to such a pass that colleges in Karnataka have been closed till February 15, and security forces took out a flag march in Udupi on Friday.

One has to find out who are the persons who are inciting passions on an issue like wearing of ‘hijab’ in schools and colleges? Who are the persons who are complicating matters by labelling a ban on wearing of ‘hijab’ in a college as an attack on a community’s fundamental right? Who are the persons who are projecting this ‘hijab’ controversy in a college as ‘an attack on Islam’? Who are the persons who are trying to mobilize Muslims over ‘hijab’ issue?

For 35 years, not a single Muslim girl came to the particular college in Udupi wearing ‘hijab’, but on one day, six girls came with a lawyer to the college and demanded that they be allowed to wear ‘hijab’. The lawyer was working for Campus Front of India, the student wing of Popular Front of India, an extremist Islamic organization.

It must be noted that members of PFI in Kerala, cut off the right hand at the wrist of a Christian professor T. J. Jospeh, on allegation of blasphemy in 2010. Professor T. J. Jospeh was teaching Malayalam at Newman College, Thodupuzha, a Christian minority institution affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University. The professor had set a question paper in which he had allegedly insulted the Prophet.

Is it just a coincidence that the same PFI is now behind the ‘hijab’ issue? Or, is it an experiment that the PFI is carrying out to test the water to spread its extremist views on Islam among Indian Muslims? It is nothing but a planned conspiracy to vitiate the communal atmosphere by projecting the ‘hijab’ issue as an attack on Muslim community. You may recall how PFI was behind the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi.

Since the ‘hijab’ issue has become controversial during the UP assembly elections, there seems to be jostling among some political parties who are trying to project themselves as protectors of minorities. Provocative messages are being circulated on social media. One Samajwadi Party leader said, if any hand is raised against a Muslim woman’s ‘hijab’, it should be cut off.

The pattern is the same, as was being noticed during anti-CAA protests. But the common Muslim is now fully aware. Pakistan is trying to tarnish India’s image on this issue. We must all remain alert and careful. Since the matter is before the court, we must allow the court to give its verdict.

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