Video of police beating women reignites hijab controversy in India

New Delhi, Feb 16 (EFE).- A video of Indian policemen beating women advocating the use of hijab, or the Islamic veil, revived the controversy over its use in classrooms on Wednesday.

The southern part of India has witnessed much controversy of late over the ban on hijab in several institutes, and the matter is currently being argued by the courts.

The footage, uploaded on social media and broadcast by the local NDTV channel, showed a group of women with their faces covered by the hijab being approached by the police before being struck by “lathis” or elongated bamboo sticks.

Although the incident occurred Sunday in Ghaziabad, a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh but bordering New Delhi, the controversy over the use of force against protesters gained momentum on Wednesday, compelling the authorities to justify the action.

“On Feb.13, the Inspector-in-charge received information about a demonstration by some people on Shani Bazar road. The team reached the spot and found women protesting on the road,” read a statement issued by the Ghaziabad police.

“When officials asked the protesters for permission (for the demonstration), the women didn’t show the permission letter. They got into a fight with the personnel present at the spot,” it added.

The security forces stressed the police action had “nothing to do with the subject matter of the protest” but with the “offenses” committed by the protesters.

The controversy over the use of hijab began on Dec.28, when an institute in the southern state of Karnataka stopped the entry of several Muslim girl students wearing the veil, arguing that religious symbols would not be permitted in the classrooms.

The girl students insisted on being allowed to enter wearing the hijab, meanwhile the ban was extended to other institutes in the state governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The situation has led to a spurt in religious tension in the state, with many Hindu groups supporting the ban.

The case reached the High Court in Karnataka, which on Friday temporarily restricted the use of hijab and other religious garments in classrooms, while the institutes temporarily closed their doors to try to calm the situation.

Although India is a secular country, tensions between the Hindu majority – who make up 79.8 percent of the population according to the last census in 2011 – and Muslims (14.2 percent), are not uncommon especially in the regions governed by the BJP.

The nonprofit Human Rights Watch has consistently denounced a “systematic discrimination” against minorities in India, especially Muslims, through laws and other actions under the ruling BJP, whose ideology has allegedly infiltrated independent institutions. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button