MEMBERS DEMAND MODI’S APOLOGY AFTER 3 MUSLIM WOMEN SARPANCHES IN HIJAB FROM KERALA ARE DENIED ENTRY AT PM’S EVENT TO MARK INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Indian Parliament’s Lower House Thursday witnessed uproarious scenes over the denial of entry to hijab-clad Muslim women sarpanches (local body heads) from Kerala into an International Women’s Day program in Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as opposition members demanded apology from the Prime Minister and stern action against police personnel who insulted the panchayat members.
The Lok Sabha saw the face-off on the issue between Muslim League’s E T Mohammad Basheer and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Basheer, who first raised the issue in the house in Zero Hour, demanded that the government and the Prime Minister apologize to the country and appropriate action be taken against those responsible.
The Muslim League leader said it is shocking to note that three woman panchayat heads from Kerala were not allowed to participate in the function held at Gandhinagar on the International Women’s Day for wearing hijab, which is their customary dress. He alleged that while the event to celebrate women was inaugurated by the Prime Minister police called them ‘Black Mafia”.
Two Panchayat President from Kasargode District in Kerala Mrs. P.P. Fousiya and Mrs. Shahina Saleem were told to remove their hijab saying only then they would be allowed to enter the conference Hall. When they said that they couldn’t remove their hijab and they were not allowed to enter. They waited for 45 minutes to enter the Hall after their fellow members from Kerala vehemently protested the police action.
Basheer said that even after being allowed into the Hall, Muslim women sarpanches were instructed not to sit with other representatives but occupy the back row only. When the women representatives raised their objection and shouted slogans a woman security guard tried to shut their mouths.
The Muslim League MP said that this kind of inhuman behavior on the part of the authorities that too in the presence of the Prime Minister is a matter of shame for the nation. “If such things are happenings in our country, then what is the meaning of saying justice to women?” he demanded. “Is the Government sincere in curbing cruelty against women? You are really denying freedom of faith as guaranteed by the Constitution!”
The government put Naqvi to its defense who completely denied the incident and saying the government cannot react to media reports. He even condemned the Muslim League member for raising the issue in the House. Basheer first sought Adjournment Motion on the issue but it was not approved by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. However, he was allowed to raise the issue in Zero Hour. He was supported by other opposition members asking the government to apologize to these women who were insulted on the very Women’s Day. They also demanded stern action against the guilty police officials.
It is worth mentioning that President of Muppinad panchayat in Wayanad Sheherban Saidalavi, Kasargod’s Thirkkaripur Panchayat President VP Fausiya and Chenkala panchayat head Shahina Salim were in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad as part of a 100-member delegation from Kerala attending the ‘Swachch Shakti 2017,’ the all-India convention of 6,000 woman sarpanches. “I was forced to remove the headscarf and I attended the function covering my head with saari,” said Saithalavi.