Army-run School in Kashmir Directs Staff to not Wear Hijab
Srinagar: An Army-run school for specially-abled children in Baramulla, Kashmir, has directed its staff to remove Hijab during school hours triggering sharp criticism in the Union Territory.
In a circular issued on Monday, the joint management committee of the Dagger Parivaar School stated: “Parivaar school is a place to learn and grow emotionally and morally. As the staff of the school, the main purpose is to provide for the fullest possible development of each learner. For the same, the trust must be established with the students to make them feel welcome, safe and happy.”
Instructing the staff to avoid wearing Hijab, the circular further stated: “The staff is hereby instructed to avoid Hijab during school hours so that students can feel comfortable and are forthcoming to interact with teachers and staff.”
According to the Kashmir Observer newspaper, the Army and a Pune-based non-governmental organisation called Indrani Balan Foundation runs the school, where around 70 students are enrolled.
The locals termed the circular, which was circulated widely on social media, “regressive” with many of them alleging that it is a part of the larger hostility towards Islamic symbols and the hatred towards Muslims in the country.
“There are already restrictions on religious freedom in Kashmir. We can’t freely pray at Jamias and Islamic practices are questioned. This is another move in that direction,” a resident of Srinagar said requesting anonymity.
Peoples Democratic Party president and former chief minister (CM) Mehbooba Mufti also criticised the circular and accused the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) of curbing women’s freedom. “I condemn this letter issuing diktats on hijab. J&K may be ruled by the BJP but it’s certainly not like any other state (sic) where they bulldoze the houses of minorities & not allow them the freedom to dress as they want. Our girls will not give up their right to choose,” she tweeted.
I condemn this letter issuing diktats on hijab. J&K may be ruled by BJP but its certainly not like any other state where they bulldoze the houses of minorities & not allow them the freedom to dress as they want. Our girls will not give up their right to choose. pic.twitter.com/GpqX8UWv5k
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 27, 2022
National Conference vice-president and former CM Omar Abdullah, who termed the order “unlawful”, said that attempts being made to “bring Karnataka to Kashmir” should stop. “Why wasn’t education affected before the Karnataka incident (Hijab row) happened? Or is it only after the row in Karnataka that the government realised it?”
Condemning the “unnecessary politicisation of religion”, aimed to spread hate, Abdullah said, “It is not just about Hijab. Statements against the use of loudspeakers during Azaan and Halal meat are being issued. We don’t impose our religion on others but why should it happen to us?”
Abdullah said that he cannot recognise contemporary India as the same country Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to in 1947. “We had joined the Indian union, where every religion was supposed to be treated equally. We were not told that one religion would dominate others. We may not have acceded at all had we been told about the partiality towards one religion.”
Supporters of the circular said that since the school is for specially-abled children, who require significant physical interaction, including “facial interpretation”, the directive against covering the face is being “misconstrued” as Hijab ban.
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