Isn’t it purely ironic that as Pakistan takes great delight in its landmark achievement of winning the international community’s attention over Islamophobia, Muslims in its immediate neighbourhood are being forced to gulp down the vilest yet the nuanced form of religious bigotry? As Karnataka high court has decided to pound the gavel in the favour of the state’s controversial decision to ban Hijab, there’s swirling talk of Hindu hardliners hitting other states next. All of India should embody the true spirit of secularism propagated by its constitution, the so-called educated of the lot have exclaimed. Meanwhile, those donning saffron scarves make no attempt at concealing their hatred for anything not deemed a part of their Shrudh Hindutva mirage.
The heated row has come as an unsolicited gift for the overwhelmingly biased BJP to shroud its administrative shortcomings; earning brownie points over the shoulders of communal animosity. New Delhi is in no mood to switch sides. So what, if this leads to a grave violation of the constitutionally-enjoined right to education for thousands (if not millions) of Muslim girls as they set off to choose between their religious identity and school. With end-of-year exams underway, doesn’t this reek of a pungent plan to get one’s way through, come what may? Hindu hardliners may be crossing lines humanely, but they have the law on their side now. Karnataka’s precedent would be hard to resist no matter how liberal those sitting on the bench may seem. But then again, it was never a state policy that was on trial here. The battle was against a brutal onslaught on fundamental freedoms enjoyed by one of the largest Muslim populations across the world.
Expectedly and for the umpteenth time, India has refused to stand by them. As if the nationwide pogrom against the lives and livelihoods was not enough to satiate the blood-hungry sharks, they have now come for their faith and their future. Quite interesting how a piece of fabric can mean entirely different things when used by a Sikh and a Muslim. In the case of Incredible India, a rose by any other name is in grave danger of losing its sweet smell.