The Shiv Sena, in its mouthpiece Saamana, has sought a ban on burqa in India, citing the example of Sri Lanka where the government banned all types of face veils following the Easter Sunday terror attacks that killed over 250 people.
In its editorial, the party says Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena made the decision in the interest of national security, and that Shiv Sena welcoms the move. The party appeals to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to follow in the footsteps of Sirisena and ban the use of burqa or niqab in India, as well, as it poses a threat to national security.
The article also mentions New Zealand, France, Australia and UK as examples to highlight the link between banning articles of clothing that cover the face in the wake of rising terror threats across the world. In this regard, the article asks why has India not followed suit yet and taken the step to ban the burqa.
Saamana also puts forth two reasons why India should ban burqa: First, the editorial says Muslim women no longer want to wear it, and secondly, it is difficult to assess what the person hiding behind a face veil is doing, thereby raising suspicion of being a threat to national security.
The editorial also talks about Muslim countries taking such steps despite being conservative nations. It calls on Modi to take this challenge as a "surgical strike" and implement it at the earliest.
"Burqa and niqab are not religious attires for India. They are being banned all over the world. If some people relate it to religion and Islam in India, then they must not have read the Quran. They should read it properly," Saamana says.
One part of the write-up, written in Marathi, translates to: "Face masks can be dangerous for national and social security. Therefore, by declaring that wearing a burqa or mask at public places would be considered a criminal act, Sirisena has shown courage."
Shiv Sena also claimed that the practice of wearing the burqa has nothing to do with Islam and is actually a practice that was adopted in Arabian countries due to their climatic condition.
"Basically, the burqa is not at all concerned with Islam, and Indian Muslims are following an arrangement of the Arab nation. At one time, to avoid desert heat and sunlight in the Arab nation, women used to cover their face and get out of the house. In Maharashtra also when the temperature rises at many places, the women travelling through cycle and scooters cover their face with a cloth or handkerchief, but this usage is limited to that. But in this delusion or blind faith, that wearing a face cover or burqa is the order of the Quran, Muslims continue to use it," an excerpt from the editorial reads.
The article ends with a question for Modi, asking when will what has happened in "Ravan's Lanka" (Sri Lanka) will happen in "Ram's Ayodhya" (India)? It says that the question is being put up for the prime minister on Wednesday as he leaves for an election campaign near Ayodhya.
However, another NDA ally Union minister Ramdas Athawale of the Republican Party of India, rejected the Sena's proposal, saying burqa should not be banned as it is part of the country's tradition.
"Not all women who wear the burqa are terrorists. It is a tradition and they have the right to wear it. There shouldn't be a ban on the burqa in India," Athwale said.
Furthermore, BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said there was no need for the imposition of any kind of burqa ban in the country.
"We have zero tolerance towards terrorism, but I don't think there is a need to impose any kind of ban as the country is already in the safe hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Everyone is free to make suggestions, but the whole world knows the Central government has effectively dealt with terrorism, and I don't think any new steps are required for this."
Moreover, in response to its burqa ban proposal, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi called Shiv Sena "ignorant".
"The Supreme court judgment on privacy clearly lays down that choice is now a fundamental right. It's a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. I request the Election Commission to take immediate note of it. It's an attempt to create polarisation."
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Updated Date: May 01, 2019 14:36:12 IST