Police in Karnataka booked Congress leader Mukarram Khan for controversial remarks he made on the hijab row heating up in the state. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered on Thursday under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code after Khan said on camera that those opposing students wearing hijab will be “cut into pieces,” as per reports.
Khan was booked under charges relating to attacking religion, hurting and insulting religious sentiments.
As quoted by ANI, Khan allegedly said, “Born and brought up here, living and ending life here in India. Those opposing students wearing hijab will be cut into pieces. One day, we will die, don’t hurt our caste (religion), all castes are equal. No caste suffers from injustice. You can wear anything, who will be stopping you? We will not tolerate this works.”
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Khan’s incendiary statement comes in the midst of an ongoing communal face-off in the state of Karnataka where groups of Muslim girls have been disallowed from entering school and college campuses in their hijabs. A hijab is a piece of cloth that works as a headscarf and is worn by many women who subscribe to Islam.
The matter, which is being heard in the Karnataka High Court this week, came to light in December last year when girls at a college in Udupi alleged that they were not being permitted to continue classes with their headscarves on. Over the past few weeks, the issue has spread to other parts of the state with many colleges shuttering gates to hijabi students citing a code of uniform.
Girls demanding to be let into educational institutions with their hijabs on prompted opposition from groups of students donning saffron scarves. An order from the state government earlier this month banned the wearing of religious symbols that disrupt public law and order. Follow the hijab row here.
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Khan is not the only one who has weighed in with alarming irresponsibility on the hijab matter. Several other public leaders, including from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have made reckless remarks that could further spark communal fires. While Yogi Adityanath proclaimed no woman wears hijab by choice, Pragya Thakur said nobody needs to wear hijab anywhere. More here.
Between extremities of warring words, the education of Muslim girls and agency of women is being assaulted. Unsurprisingly, a large part of the dialogue is being hijacked by men who feel patriarchally entitled to preside over decisions related to women’s clothes.
The conversation has dangerously shifted from the wearing of hijabs on campus to the essentialism of hijab to the Islamic faith.
Why were those tongues, now making lofty pronouncements of the headscarf being a supposed symbol of female oppression or empowerment, absent from past feminist discourse on women’s liberation? Do they get to have a say when their mouths open only to further agendas and stoke disharmony? Can men just please sit down and restore the right of women to take centre stage on this matter that is centred around them?
Views expressed are the author’s own.