Hijab Row: A Stepping Stone to Anarchy

The refusal by six girls of a college in Kundapura in the Udupi district of Karnataka to attend classes without wearing hijab has kicked a major communal storm, keeping the police on toes.

Published: 27th February 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2022 06:09 PM   |  A+A-

Hijab row,

The refusal by six girls of a college in Kundapura in the Udupi district of Karnataka to attend classes without wearing hijab has kicked a major communal storm, keeping the police on toes. The college management simply wanted to enforce uniformity in students’ dress to foster a sense of discipline, encourage harmonious development of students’ outlook and respect for each other’s concerns in a secular ambience. But non-BJP political parties, the Popular Front of India (a radical Islamic group), its surrogate, the Campus Front of India, Imams and their supporters would have none of it.

They rallied strongly behind girls’ revolt, justifying it as a reaction against increasing attempts by ‘Hindu culturalism’ to marginalise the identity of Muslims, majoritarian intolerance and violation of their fundamental rights. All cliches. The result was: several colleges had to be closed, violent mobs were lathi-charged and teargassed in different parts of the state and hijab marches were taken out in Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Maharashtra.

Not surprisingly, the matter reached the Karnataka High Court and will soon be argued in the Supreme Court. Till then, we have to wait to know whether Sura 33, Ayaat 59 of the Quran ordains hijab in educational institutions and Article 25 (1) of the Constitution approves it and, whether students can attend schools/colleges in fancy dresses, representing their culture, religion, tradition and customs. Our communities, civil society, governments and political parties have obviously become incapable of mutually reconciling their conflicting interests and prefer running to the judiciary for direction. If a few wise men of courts are their last refuge, then why make so much noise unless the purpose is to further radicalise their religious constituencies?

The hijab imbroglio follows a sinister and familiar pattern. Zealots start by claiming religious victimisation, then organise protests, lay siege to government institutions, block highways and railway tracks and finally unleash violence. This trend has put the courts in a dilemma—whether to allow hijab in classes and pave way for more intense agitations around demands for burqa, abaya, niqab, separate sitting arrangements, prayer rooms, prayer breaks, holidays on Fridays in educational institutions, courts, police and armed forces and, exemption from body search at airports, electoral booths and sensitive public places.

Any leeway or ambiguity in their judgement will be exploited by parties in power for electoral gains, ignoring the adverse impact of their communal dispensation on internal security. They would prevaricate and let law-enforcing agencies bear the brunt of mob fury. Ironically, the hijab drama is being enacted in a country that is secular and democratic and has a Constitution, guarded jealously by hyper-active judges, but still remains a battlefield for fanatics to pursue exclusionist agenda through mass mobilisation and confrontation.

Amar Bhushan


Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp