On the Illiberal Fear of the Burka

On the Illiberal Fear of the Burka
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By Sheikh Imran

After experiencing a gory past full of bloodshed and chaos one would expect the right wing leaders of India to be more responsible and sensitive towards any such a potential situation which may open the but disappointingly no such thing is observed on their part. Leave the right wing elements alone even the so called liberal voices in India have become selective and act like conservative reactionaries of ancient times when it comes to the rights of minorities in India like Dalits and Muslims.
One such prominent liberal voice in contemporary India belongs to the retired Judge of Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju. Justice Katju is very active on social media through which he interacts with international as well as national audiences. He has a balanced and a rationale stand regarding various issues prevalent in today’s India but some of his tweets, columns and Facebook posts clearly emit a biased and unacceptable perception of Indian Muslims particularly their women.
Justice Katju is an ardent opponent of veil or what is locally known as burka and he claims that it should be banned as it is a big obstacle in the road to development of Indian Muslims. In a tirade of tweets , he even goes further saying that India shall take the cue from countries like France and ban the “feudal” practice called burka. Now we don’t know what could be a scientific explanation of connection between development and clothing but it definitely indicates that this could be an attempt of walling Muslim women who wear burka by their own choice and will.
Justice Katju should take in account the freedoms guaranteed to the citizens of India by its constitution in which of course he is well versed and an expert. People should be left with some privacy, and yes privacy was recently declared as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court of India.
People shall let decide what they want to wear and what they feel comfortable in. Justice Katju , by demanding a ban on any sort of clothing is himself trying to send India back into ancient times . In Katju’s India, people will be seen as undesirable on the basis of their dressing sense. India is going through a phase which is dominated by communal majoritarian axis and Justice Katju also admits it through his social media handles and articles but pitching for a ban for a particular dressing sense of Muslim women he is only cementing and consolidating the right wing narrative in India.
If Burkha is banned in India and “liberals” like Justice Katju start supporting such demands it will strengthen the majoritarian right wing narrative which was started by RSS stalwarts like M.S Golwalkar and K.S Hegdewar. The RSS holds a strong view that Muslims should be allowed to live in India but without any rights and the right to vote should also be stripped off from them they see everything related with Muslims as unholy and unwanted. This can set a bad precedent and if the kitchens and wardrobes of minorities are scrutinized it will obviously cultivate a feeling of alienation in them and it will open a Pandora’s Box for India and her democracy.
Any country’s development and progress depends upon the scientific temper, reason and best use and utilization of human resources in it. Every person apart from his/her belief, caste or creed shall have to be developed and used for the building of a better society, development has nothing to do with clothing and eating habits of people. A country doesn’t need calories and carbohydrates neither does it need bikinis or burkas to develop; rather it requires the efforts of the people living in it to develop it

The author, from Kishtwar, can be reached at: imu3133@gmail.com