Hijab: HRF In Solidarity With Muslim Girl Students

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) expresses unconditional solidarity with the Muslim girl students of Karnataka who are being subjected to religious discrimination, segregation and Hindutva intolerance within educational institutions. It was particularly chilling to see how a saffron-clad mob targeted and chased a lone Muslim student with chants of Jai Shri Ram when she attempted to enter her college wearing a burqa. The harassment and hounding of the students for choosing to wear a Hijab is an attack on freedoms and rights granted by the Constitution. It is yet another indicator of the repugnant politics of Hindutva forces.

What started at a government college in Udupi, Karnataka, was replicated across several educational institutions in that State, including Shimoga, Chikmagalur, and Mandya. Similar incursions were reported from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Pondicherry, and the list is growing. These are undemocratic and unconstitutional attacks seeped in bigotry. The institutional sanctions to restrictions on personal choices, such as Hijab in educational spaces, aim to further the Hindutva project wherein Indian Muslims are deprived of their rights and freedoms.

It is distressing to see the support that these acts of violation of the rights of Muslims, in particular of Muslim women, have garnered. It bears recalling that it has barely been a month since supremacist Hindutva tendencies manifested in the form of the ‘Bulli Bai’ app using which Muslim women were subjected to harassment and de-humanisation by conducting a fake ‘online auction’.

An increase in these acts of harassment and violence against Muslims indicates a severe regression of Indian democracy. HRF calls upon educational institutions, bureaucracy, and elected representatives of States where such attacks are being orchestrated to attempt to exert secular sensibilities as the Constitution of India binds them to act fairly. We call upon the media to not turn this act of unchecked Islamophobia into a false binary of a Hijab-Saffron row.

HRF believes that it is a dangerous precedent for courts to peruse religious texts to ascertain the validity of a choice of clothing. We hope that in the ongoing matter, the Courts depend on and uphold the Constitutionally guaranteed rights to liberty and equality that all citizens possess.

VS Krishna 
(HRF Coordination Committee member
TS & AP)

S. Jeevan Kumar
(HRF Coordination Committee member
TS & AP)


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