“Bikini, Ghoonghat Or Hijab – It’s Woman’s Right”: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra


Hijab Row: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the Congress’ face for the 2022 UP Assembly election (File)

New Delhi:

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday spoke up in support of college students in Karnataka who have been banned from wearing the hijab in classrooms, tweeting that the choice of what clothes to wear was theirs alone, and that this right is protected by the Constitution.

“Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat, a pair of jeans, or a hijab, it is a woman’s right to decide what she wants to wear. This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women,” Ms Gandhi Vadra tweeted with the hashtag #ladkihoonladsaktihoon.

#ladkihoonladsaktihoon is the Congress’ war cry for the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly election that begins tomorrow. The party has zeroed in on women’s rights and empowerment as one of the key issues ahead of the election, with Ms Gandhi Vadra leading that charge.

Last week Congress MP Rahul Gandhi also spoke out in support of students’ right to wear the hijab in classes, tweeting: “By letting students’ hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India. Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn’t differentiate.”

Shocking protests against college students’ right to wear a hijab in classrooms have erupted in several towns in Karnataka’s Udupi, Chikkamagaluru and Mandya districts over the past weeks.

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On Tuesday disturbing footage emerged of a young girl being heckled by a mob of frenzied men in Mandya waving saffron scarves and shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. The girl fought back, responding with shouts of ‘Allah hu Akbar’ before she was escorted away from the dangerous situation.

The young girl, Muskan, told NDTV: “I was not worried. When I entered the college they were not allowing me just because I was wearing the burqa. They are ruining our education.”

In two towns in Davengere district large gatherings were banned after hijab-wearing protesters and those wearing saffron shawls threw stones at each other.

In Shivamogga district boys wearing saffron scarves cheered as one of them ran up a saffron flag.

In Kundapur taluk on Monday two men were arrested for carrying knives during a protest by students.

The controversy erupted in December after six students at an Udupi college alleged they were stopped from wearing the hijab while in class. Their protests triggered a wave of counter-agitations led by mobs of students and others brandishing saffron scarves and shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

The protests have also triggered a political row with worrying communal overtones in the southern state and others; similar incidents have been reported from Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry.

Karnataka’s BJP government has been largely silent as it waits for a decision by the High Court on a petition by five women questioning the restrictions on wearing hijabs.

The court, which began hearing the matter yesterday, will resume arguments this afternoon.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai yesterday ordered all schools and colleges to close for three days.

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