Edit/Op-Ed

BJP Should Not Tear India’s Social Fabric for Piece of Cloth — Hijab

India’s fiercely secular leader alive — Lalu Prasad Yadav, president, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had anointed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as Bharatiya Jhagda Party (BJP) to describe the mischief and riot potential of the present ruling party. Perhaps, the BJP is living true to Lalu’s description. Lalu must have been fed on his mother’s milk (Maa ka Doodh) for he daringly stopped communal extremist and Jinnah supporter L K Advani’s Rath Yatra, which had turned into a Rakt Yatra (journey of blood) from wherever it passed through in different states. Advani was arrested and peace restored for some time.

Since the 1980s, the BJP has been vitiating the atmosphere. It has been hounding Muslims and other minorities. Riots and lynchings have dominated the narrative of the Sangh Parivar. It may be recalled that hardcore anti-Muslim BJP leader Narendra Modi had presided over the Muslim Genocide 2002 in Gujarat as the chief minister. Bigotry has increased phenomenally since then. The narrative of hostility, torture, and torment has assumed alarming proportions during the past seven years with BJP’s evil eye keeping an eye on what the Muslims eat and how they dress. It may be recalled that during the last Jharkhand Assembly elections, Narendra Modi had attributed violence and extremism to people ‘who can be recognized by their clothes!’ If hate and name-calling start from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, how can a layman be stopped from pedalling more hate and violence?

The BJP is bereft of issues and is on a slide down hill all over the country. Narendra Modi’s popularity is at an all-time low after the extreme tyranny handed out to the farmers for 13 months. Hathras gang rape and murder of the helpless Dalit girl shows how safe are Dalit women. The misogynist BJP comes after women very strongly. The gang-raped Gujarat Muslim women and the Muslim women from Muzaffarnagar and Shamli are still seeking the elusive justice. Many Dalit girls and women have not been spared by the communal and casteist vultures.

The ignominy of defeat is staring at the BJP as five states go to the polls to elect their new state governments. In Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi’s hate-mate and BJP leader Amit Shah failed to capitalize on the so-called exodus from Kairana. The blatant lie fell on Amit Shah’s face as the voters reject the ploy to polarize the polls. The farmer leaders and Tikait brothers Naresh and Rakesh, who stood rock solid behind the BJP in the past three elections, are exhorting the farmers ‘to punish the BJP’ for the ill-treatment and cheating of farmers. Uttarakhand and Goa also seem to go, going, gone for the BJP. The brave farmers in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are ready to crush the BJP under their tractors’ wheels in the coming polls. It is against this gloomy backdrop that the BJP is trying to hide behind Hijab and polarize the polls!

Muskan, meaning smile, belies her name. When the 50-odd saffron goons chased and charged at this college girl in Karnataka menacingly with war cry – Jai Sri Ram, the Hijabi girl Muskan Khan stood her ground undettered, with full-throated praise – Allahu Akbar! The misogynists’ only grouse was that Muskan was wearing the Hijab. They are linking the Hijab to uniform. Let the BJP know that the Hijab was not invented in 2022. Muslim women have been using Hijab all over the civilized world for more than 1400 years. What ‘national interest’ is involved in it? It is the fundamental right of a citizen to wear what he or she likes. Muslims have tolerated and did not make an issue of some naked Hindu and other Sadhus roaming naked. If Muslims roam naked, they would have been branded uncultured and uncivilized. Not long ago, a naked monk addressed the Haryana Legislative Assembly. Did anybody show disapproval or object to it?

To wear or not to wear any garment is a personal choice. As a feminist, I believe that men should not control women’s bodies and their sartorial choices. Is it okay for Kangana Ranaut or Sunny Leonne or Jacqueline Fernandez or Deepika Padukone to go flaunting bra-less and not okay for Muslim girls to wear Hijab? No woman must be forced to wear Hijab but at the same time, no woman must be stopped wearing Hijab. The BJP and the hooligan brigades must not look at the heads of women but look at what is inside their heads. If the women of Rajasthan wear Ghoonghat and cover their heads, the choice must be respected. Will the BJP go after the Hindu Rajasthani women for wearing Ghoonghat? Only an actor may sing: Ghoonghat ki Aad se Deedar Adhura Rehta hai.

Telugu Desam leader Chandrababu Naidu’s university mate and Gulf- returnee Prof. Khader Nawaz Khan bats for equality. Prof. Khan suggests that Hindu students and teachers should not sport Tilak or Bindis on their foreheads before asking Muslim girls not to wear Hijab. I could not agree more with the learned Prof. Khan when he says that we must not forget our common cultural ethos and we must stay away from the Hindu – Muslim binary, which harms our great nation. Prof. Khan also suggests that government offices should not display photos of Hindu deities to make it a level playing (working) field for employees of all faiths.

India is a secular country. I would suggest that at inaugurations or foundation laying ceremonies, if pooja or Hindu worship is performed with chanting of Hindu mantras, then there should be recitations from the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible too. Guru Granth Sahib should be recited too. This will strengthen the unity of our country and reflect our great 5,000- year old tolerant civilization.

The BJP should not tear India’s social fabric by opposing Hijab, which is nothing but a small piece of cloth to cover the heads of the chaste women. There is no quarrel with the other chaste women who may not wear Hijab. For God’s sake, the BJP must not go after the Catholic nuns who cover their heads too. Unity in diversity must be the only guiding mantra of our secular democratic republic.

Only a united India can be a resurgent India and super power!

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