BJP MLA sparks hijab controversy in Rajasthan

BJP MLA’s Visit to School in Rajasthan Triggers Hijab Controversy

Jaipur: The controversy surrounding hijabs or headscarves has now reached Rajasthan, originating from the distant state of Karnataka. A BJP MLA’s visit to a school has sparked protests among students, who claim they were forced to raise religious slogans. A Congress MLA who raised the issue in the state assembly was denied the opportunity to speak.

The BJP’s Bal Mukund Acharya visited a government school in the Gangapol area of Jaipur’s Walled City during Republic Day celebrations, where he questioned the dress code. In response, students and their guardians took to the streets today, expressing their discontent with the MLA’s comments and demanding answers.

“He asked us to raise religious slogans, and when some girls remained silent, he claimed they were instructed to do so. He also stated that wearing a hijab in school is not allowed,” said one of the students.

The protesting students eventually dispersed after a compromise was reached with the authorities. However, the controversy continued to escalate as Mr. Acharya released a video explaining his stance. “I had asked the principal if they have two different dress codes. When a Republic Day function or any government function is held, is there a different dress code? At this rate, even our children will turn up in lehenga chunni,” he stated.

The Congress MLA from Kishanpol, Amin Kagazi, accused Mr. Acharya of disturbing the harmony and communal peace in the Walled City. “If no action is taken by February 2, the protests will resume,” he warned.

BJP minister Kirori Lal Meena also joined the debate, labeling the hijab as a “symbol of slavery” brought in by the Mughals. “Hijab is not allowed in some Islamic nations. It should not happen here,” he argued.

This is not the first controversy surrounding Bal Mukund Acharya. Shortly after his election victory last month, he was seen roaming the streets, demanding action against illegal butcher shops.

The hijab issue had previously rocked Karnataka for over two years. In 2022, the BJP government, led by Chief Minister B Bommai, implemented a ban on headscarves in educational institutions, sparking a massive outcry. The Karnataka High Court upheld the ban, stating that wearing a hijab “is not an essential religious practice of Islam.” However, the court also emphasized that educational institutes have the authority to determine dress codes for their students.

After assuming power last year, the Congress government announced that individuals were free to “eat and wear what they liked,” raising hopes for the revocation of the ban. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah declared, “Hijab ban isn’t there anymore. Women can wear hijab and go anywhere. I have directed the withdrawal of the ban order. How you dress and what you eat is your choice. Why should I obstruct you?” However, due to significant opposition from the BJP, he clarified that no government order had been issued to lift the ban.

The hijab controversy, which began in Karnataka and has now spread to Rajasthan, highlights the ongoing debate surrounding religious attire and personal freedom in educational settings.

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