Friday, March 1, 2024

“Protest against hatred…,” says 14-year-old Muslim girl in Jaipur who chants “Hijab is our honour”

Ganagapol Senior Secondary Girls school in Rajasthan’s Jaipur limps back to normal on Tuesday after a controversy erupted on January 27th when a Bhartiya Janata Party MLA Balamukund Acharya from the Hawa Mahal Constituency objected to students wearing Hijab in the school.

Acharya was invited by the school administration as a chief guest at an annual function on January 27th, where he had asked the school administration to stop allowing students to wear Hijab.

In a video surfaced on social media sites, he can be seen asking the school administration whether the school has two dress codes- one for Muslim students and the other for Hindus.

The BJP MLA in another video was seen leading the students to chant slogans, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Saraswati Mata ki Jai’. He can be further heard interrogating, “Kuch bachhiyan nahi bol rahin, kya baat hai, mana kiya hai? (Some girls are not saying, are you asked not to?) He also walked around the school chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ in the corridors of the school.

Following the Hindutva politician’s anti-Muslim bias and ‘hatred’ towards Hijab, Muslim students protested against his action of ‘vitiating the school’s atmosphere’, demanding an apology and seeking a First Information Report outside Subhash Chowk Police Station chanting “Hijab is our honour”.

Nazia Khan*, a student of 9th Standard at Gangapol Senior Secondary Girls School said that a negligible number of students wear Hijab on the school campus and everything on Tuesday at school was as usual as any other day.

Nazia who was also a part of the protest outside Subhash Chowk police station said, “Protesting against things and people who don’t adhere to the constitution or democracy is the right thing to do.”

She said, “I am just introduced to civics (political science) in my curriculum. I read about secularism and the diversity of my country but the words of the MLA at school are just opposite of what I read.”

“We have to be wary of such people who incite hatred between communities for their political gains”, said 14-year-old Nazia.

She further said, “I will prefer following my religious education rather than modern education if I have to choose between two but our school is very inclusive and politicians are only trying to politicise the school.”

Speaking to Maktoob, Sheikh Khaleel, the father of one of the students said, “This is just pure provocation, most students don’t wear Hijab inside the school since it is a girls’ school.”

Khaleel’s two daughters are enrolled in the school and both of them wear Hijab but during school hours they remain in school uniform as per the rules.

“They wear Hijab and Abaya on their way to school and back home”, he said.

Sheikh said, “Acharya ji is free to wear whatever he wants and he should not have a problem with anyone wearing the clothes of their choice. He wears his religious clothes and nobody objects to that.”

“Likewise, he should not have any issue with Hijab or any other outfit. Why is he coming up with this discrimination against Hijab when there is a constitutional provision to practise and profess one’s religion,” he added.

“Muslim Naujawan Committee”, a confederation of 52 Muslim youth organisations in Jaipur along with protesters had submitted a memorandum to the district collector over the issue to address and investigate the issue.

Station House Officer of Subhash Nagar Police told Maktoob that they have not received any complaints so far and “If they receive any complaint they will act upon it accordingly. 

“No FIR has been registered in the matter but the collector’s office has received a memorandum and required action will be taken,” said the officer.

Congress MLA from Adarsh Nagar Rafeek Khan also joined the protesting students assuring them of “standing by their side”.

He raised the incident in the Rajasthan State Assembly and urged the government to take action against Acharya by February 2nd.

“Balmukund’s politics to attack the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb of Jaipur won’t be tolerated. The Baba should immediately apologise. We will not stay quiet on this and he will have to apologise,” Khan told reporters on Monday.

Acharya is infamous for his anti-Muslim sentiment. After winning the Hawa Mahal seat in Rajasthan, he was in the news for ordering the closure of all non-vegetarian food stalls on the street in the area that could impact the livelihood of hundreds of people.

Not only that, post elections, he was caught in a tussle with the Jaipur police for misbehaving with the police personnel.

*name changed

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