Now, Pro-Veil Protest In Name Of Ambedkar, Who Ironically Called ‘Burqa Women’ One Of The Most Hideous Sights In India

Now, Pro-Veil Protest In Name Of Ambedkar, Who Ironically Called ‘Burqa Women’ One Of The Most Hideous Sights In India

by Swarajya Staff - Monday, February 7, 2022 06:35 PM IST
Now, Pro-Veil Protest In Name Of Ambedkar, Who Ironically Called ‘Burqa Women’ One Of The Most Hideous Sights In IndiaThe group of Dalit students protesting.
  • Ambedkar heavily criticised the Islamic veil.

In a protest that defied all logic, some self-proclaimed supporters of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar staged a protest in Karnataka on Monday against the state government for not allowing burqa during lectures in government schools.

Mediapersons covering the issue in Karnataka posted videos of male students donning blue stoles chanting ‘Jai Bhim’ (short for Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar). The students were protesting in support of the burqa-donning women students at IDSG government college in Chikkamagalur area of Karnataka, as per reports.

Students donning blue came face-to-face with students donning saffron, triggering what reports say was a “riot-like” situation. However, the police managed to control the groups.

Since the controversy over Islamic veil erupted, several Hindu men and women students from government schools have been coming to the campuses in saffron stoles, demanding either they too be allowed to display their religion or the Muslim women be barred from displaying theirs.

Ambedkar Heavily Criticised The Islamic Veil

The pro-hijab protest by the ‘Ambedkarwadis’ is highly ironical, given that Ambedkar made his anti-burqa stand very clear in his writings. In his seminal writings ahead of the creation of Pakistan, Ambedkar called burqa-donning women “one of the most hideous sights one can witness in India”.

This is what Ambedkar wrote, in a chapter of the book titled ‘Social Stagnation’:”

“…the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women.

As a consequence of the purdah system, a segregation of the Muslim women is brought about...These burka women walking in the streets is one of the most hideous sights one can witness in India.

“Such seclusion cannot but have its deteriorating effects upon the physical constitution of Muslim women. They are usually victims to anaemia, tuberculosis and pyorrhoea. Their bodies are deformed, with their backs bent, bones protruded, hands and feet crooked. Ribs, joints and nearly all their bones ache. Heart palpitation is very often present in them. The result of this pelvic deformity is untimely death at the time of delivery. Purdah deprives Muslim women of mental and moral nourishment. Being deprived of healthy social life, the process of moral degeneration must and does set in. Being completely secluded from the outer world, they engage their minds in petty family quarrels with the result that they become narrow and restricted in their outlook.
“They lag behind their sisters from other communities, cannot take part in any outdoor activity and are weighed down by a slavish mentality and an inferiority complex. They have no desire for knowledge, because they are taught not to be interested in anything outside the four walls of the house. Purdah women in particular become helpless, timid, and unfit for any fight in life. Considering the large number of purdah women among Muslims in India, one can easily understand the vastness and seriousness of the problem of purdah.”

In the same chapter, Ambedkar decried the religious sanction to the veil in Islam compared to Hindu religions

On the religious sanction to the veil in Islam compared to Hindu religions:

“The evil consequences of purdah are not confined to the Muslim community only. It is responsible for the social segregation of Hindus from Muslims which is the bane of public life in India. This argument may appear far-fetched and one is inclined to attribute this segregation to the unsociability of the Hindus rather than to purdah among the Muslims. But the Hindus are right when they say that it is not possible to establish social contact between Hindus and Muslims because such contact can only mean contact between women from one side and men from the other.
“Not that purdah and the evils consequent thereon are not to be found among certain sections of the Hindus in certain parts of the country. But the point of distinction is that among the Muslims, purdah has a religious sanctity which it has not with the Hindus. Purdah has deeper roots among the Muslims than it has among the Hindus and can only be removed by facing the inevitable conflict between religious injunctions and social needs. The problem of purdah is a real problem with the Muslims — apart from its origin — which it is not with the Hindus. Of any attempt by the Muslims to do away with it, there is no evidence.”

In a possible attempt to unite with Muslims against “saffronisation”, the Dalit student group rallying in support of the burqa is thus behaving as anti-Ambedkarwadi. The chants of ‘Jai Bhim’ accompanying their agitation are an insult to the beliefs of Bhimrao.

What The Pro-Burqa Protests Are All About

Some Muslim women have been agitating since December for their ‘right’ to wear the Islamic veil during classes.

The agitation began at an all-women government pre-university college in Udupi district when eight of 70 Muslim students came to the school wearing the veil in December, demanding they be allowed to attend classes. The girls argued that it was only recently that they had discovered that the school had no specific rule against the Islamic veil, which they said was a symbol of their religion. The agitation has since spread to other government schools. As of now, Muslim students in at least five schools are demanding the same.

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state has been adamant on its stand that it won’t allow young women to don the Islamic veil during classes.

State BJP president and Dakshina Kannada member of parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel told mediapersons a day ago that the state government would not allow ‘Talibanisation’ of the education system.

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