The hijab controversy seems to have found its way into Jammu and Kashmir with erstwhile state’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday stating the Union Territory is “not like any other state” where they (BJP) bulldoze the houses of minorities.
Mufti's reaction came following a diktat issued by the administration of a school for specially abled for its staff in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, to not wear hijab inside the school.
I condemn this letter issuing diktats on hijab. J&K may be ruled by BJP but its certainly not like any other state where they bulldoze the houses of minorities & not allow them the freedom to dress as they want. Our girls will not give up their right to choose. pic.twitter.com/GpqX8UWv5k— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 27, 2022
The hijab row had erupted on January 1 this year at Government PU College in Karnataka’s Udupi, where six female students claimed that they were not allowed to enter classrooms wearing hijab.
Later, the students held a presser, where they said that permission was sought but college authorities refused to let them enter the classroom with their heads covered.
They started protesting against the college authorities, which soon snowballed into a statewide issue. Soon similar protests emerged from other towns in Karnataka. These protests and counter demonstrations involving saffron scarves have since spread to other states.
Several videos of the protests emerged, which showed students of the two communities engaging in verbal spats. One such video from a college in Mandya showed a Muslim girl Muskaan Khan standing her ground as a large number of saffron scarf wearing boys heckled her and shouted slogans of "Jai Shri Ram". She shouted back at them: "Allah hu Akbar!"
The circular issued by Dagger Parivar School Baramulla on 25 April reads: “Parivar school is a place to learn and grow emotionally & morally. As the staff of school, the main purpose is to provide for the fullest possible development of each learner. For the same, the trust must be established with the students to make them feel welcome, safe &happy”.
It added: “The staff is hereby instructed to avoid Hijab during school hours, so that students can feel comfortable and are forthcoming to interact with teachers & staff”.
In her reaction on social media, PDP chief Mufti said: “I condemn this letter issuing diktats on hijab. J&K may be ruled by BJP but its certainly not like any other state where they bulldoze the houses of minorities & not allow them the freedom to dress as they want. Our girls will not give up their right to choose”.
Earlier, Mufti along with BJP had run a coalition government in the erstwhile J&K state for two years, before the later withdrew its support in June 2018. The BJP before snapping the ties with PDP had maintained secrecy over its move, which left the Mufti lurking.
Later, Mufti in a presser at her Fairview residence, the erstwhile dreaded interrogation centre during 90’s, said that she had forged the alliance to take J&K out of “sufferings”.
Mufti, who rose on the political map of Kashmir by “mourning” the killings of militants and civilians during late 90’s, had fought elections in 2014 with poll plank against BJP’s ‘Hindutva agenda’. However, she had later forged alliance with the ‘saffron party’, saying “it was done to respect Jammu peoples’ mandate”.
In 2019, after Centre abrogated Article 370, scrapped J&K of its special status, and downgraded and bifurcated J&K into two Union Territories—J&K and Ladakh, Mufti was among the three former Chief Ministers including Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah who were jailed.