Abaya ban in Jammu and Kashmir school creates stir

The PDP President Mehbooba Mufti called it an attack on religious freedom
Picture Courtesy: Unsplash/TNIE
Picture Courtesy: Unsplash/TNIE

A local school in Jammu and Kashmir has received flak regarding its denying entry to girls wearing an abaya, a loose cloak worn by Muslim women. The move has garnered criticism even from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti termed it as an attack on religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution.

"Jammu and Kashmir has become a laboratory for BJP's plans of changing Gandhi's India into Godse's India. All experiments begin from here. It started off in Karnataka and has reached Kashmir. This is not acceptable to us. There will be a serious reaction to it because wearing clothes is a personal choice. There should be no compulsion," Mufti said.

She further stated that the government is harassing the religious leaders and scrutinising each and every one from the state, even the scholars.

She added that the government is not only attacking religion but also curtailing their freedom of choice to wear and eat which is their basic right and granted by the Constitution of the country. "This will not be tolerated, we have had enough. In 2019, they attacked our dignity and identity but now it has come to our religion as well," she said.

Students protesting against the imposition 

Several female students of Vishwa Bharti Higher Secondary School staged a protest against the administration. They alleged that they were denied entry by the principal as they were wearing the abaya. 

School Principal Memroz Shafi said the students had been told that they can wear abaya from home to school, but they should take it off inside the school premises. "We told them to wear a long white-coloured hijab or a large dupatta as that is part of the school uniform. They come wearing colourful abayas, with different designs which are not part of the uniform," he said.

Conflicting opinions

Tanvir Sadiq National Conference (NC) Chief Spokesperson said it was unfortunate to witness such incidents in the Muslim-majority Union Territory. He said that wearing a hijab is a personal choice and that such matters relating to religion should not be meddled with. 

Nasirul Islam, Grand Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir, emphasised on how girls have the right to protect their modesty by wearing abaya.

"A rebuttal has been issued by the educational institution that they have not issued any order banning the abaya. The school, which was earlier for girls only, has now become co-educational school. Hence, the girls have all the right to wear burqa to maintain their modesty," Islam said.

BJP General Secretary Ashok Koul said his party was not in favour of imposing dress codes.

"It's a religious issue. We are neither against it nor in its favour. A person is free to wear whatever she wants. If anyone wants to wear a saree or salwar, there should be no compulsion in it. Every person is free to wear clothes of their choice," Koul said.

Darakshan Andrabi, Chairperson of the Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Board, was the sole voice his support of the ban. He said that every college has a uniform and it is mandatory for students or teachers to follow that code.

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