Forc­ing Dress Code on Mus­lims part of BJP Poll Plan?

The re­cent ban on wear­ing the hi­jab in some ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in Kar­nataka is part of a larger de­sign to strip Mus­lims of their rights, says

Tehelka - - 20 - IM­RAN KHAN

IN THE af­ter­math of the at­tack on some young­sters ‘par­ty­ing’ at a home-stay in Man­ga­lore on 28 July, pub­lic pres­sure has forced the BJP gov­ern­ment to ar­rest 22 ac­tivists of the Hindu Ja­garan Vedike. While the at­tack is seen as a pre­poll strat­egy by the BJP to mo­bilise its core vote­bank, the home-stay at­tack sig­ni­fies that the BJP’s Hin­dutva project in coastal Kar­nataka has en­tered a new phase of ex­treme rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

Last week, the Vivekananda Vidyavard­haka Sangha group of in­sti­tu­tions (VVS Put­tur, Dak­shin Kan­nada) is­sued in­struc- tions to its students and staff to wear tilaks, ear­rings and ban­gles while at­tend­ing classes. The dik­tat is­sued by the man­age­ment ex­tends to mi­nor­ity students and col­lege staff. While wear­ing the ti­lak and ban­gles is en­cour­aged by the man­age­ment un­der the garb of pro­mot­ing ‘In­dian’ val­ues, any dis­play of hi­jab (head­scarf ) or burqa is banned in the 41 in­sti­tu­tions (from preschool to engi­neer­ing) run by VVS, on the grounds that it is not part of its pre­scribed ‘uni­form’. VVS Sec­re­tary E Shiva­parasad says, “Ours is an in­sti­tu­tion based on the prin­ci­ples and teach­ing of Swami Vivekananda. And it is our duty to pro­mote and in­cul­cate among our students a spirit of In­dian val­ues and cul­ture.” When ques­tioned about the head­scarf ban, he says, “It goes against the uni­form dress code, hence could not be al­lowed.”

For the past three years, sev­eral pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions in coastal and Dak­shin Kan­nada have dis­al­lowed Mus­lim girls from wear­ing the burqa, and now even the head­scarf, though they have re­frained from is­su­ing any of­fi­cial in­struc­tion or men­tion­ing it in their prospec­tus. In­ter­est­ingly, the first to im­pose such a ban was a Chris­tian in­sti­tu­tion, St. Agnes Col­lege, fol­lowed by St. Anne’s and St. Aloy­sius Col­lege in Man­ga­lore. A guest lec­turer at Man­ga­lore Univer­sity, who was ear­lier of­fered the job of an As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor at St. Aloy­sius, says of her meet­ing with its prin­ci­pal: “They asked me to meet the prin­ci­pal Swe­bert D’Silva. He told me that as per rules, I can­not teach wear­ing the burqa. When I asked if I could wear a coloured scarf, he flatly said I couldn’t.”

When con­tacted by TE­HELKA, Swe­bert D’Silva main­tained that, “the ban is im­posed only in the classes and ex­am­i­na­tion halls. They are free to wear what they want in the cam­puses”. Rea­son­ing the ban, D’Silva says, “Dur­ing ex­am­i­na­tion, students can smug­gle in gad­gets and notes. As a rule, we have asked them to keep their heads un­cov­ered.” At the same time, he added that there should be uni­for­mity in class­rooms. Since 2008, more than 15

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