Monday, 27 March, 2023
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Hijab verdict tramples on religious identity of Muslims, says Urdu press, backs appeal in SC

ThePrint’s round-up of how the Urdu media covered various news events through the week, and the editorial positions some of them took.

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New Delhi: The fallout of the assembly election results in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab — announced on 10 March — kept Urdu papers busy for the first half of the week gone by. The Karnataka High Court’s hijab verdict, delivered Tuesday, kept the pages filled thereafter, with arguments ranging from women’s rights to religious freedom. There was unanimity, however, in most editorial write-ups on the need to challenge the HC verdict

ThePrint brings you a wrap of this week’s page one news and editorials from the Urdu press.

Hijab verdict

News of the Karnataka High Court’s hijab verdict, in which the court ruled that the headscarf is not an essential religious practice in Islam, was carried on the front pages of all Urdu newspapers.

In a related piece on the issue, Siasat wrote that this is the latest in a series of verdicts and administrative decisions that trample on the religious identity of Muslims. The direct result of the verdict would be that many girls would stay away from educational institutions, the paper said, and asked whether that is in favour of or against the government of India’s policy. The paper also carried a story on its front page, quoting statements critical of the verdict — from Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi to former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

Siasat also carried another report quoting Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi that women’s rights will not be protected unless women become a part of the decision-making process.

Alongside the main report on the verdict, carried as the lead on 16 March, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara also carried two other reports — one on the increased security deployment in the official residence of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Rituraj Awasthi and another about a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the HC verdict. Inquilab also carried alongside the verdict, a front page report about the various statements criticising the verdict or describing it as “disappointing”.

In an editorial, Siasat also wrote that the leeway given to Muslim girls for years, to attend classes in hijab, had been suddenly done away with in Karnataka, and the verdict highlights the need for Muslims to explore all legal options to fight for their rights.

Roznama too advocated legal recourse in its editorial.

The paper also wrote that not just Islam, but many other religions advocate that women cover their head, but just as wearing skimpy clothes is the democratic right of women, so is the wearing of hijab.

In another editorial on 18 March, Inquilab wrote that the hijab row is a result of the politics that believes in dividing society. It also wrote that hopes of the Karnataka High Court defending hijab have been dashed.

Also read: Hijab, ‘narco jihad’, Ukraine students’ ‘lavish’ wants — what Right-wing press is writing about

The fall and fall of Congress

The decimation of the Congress party in the recently concluded assembly elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, and the post mortem of that defeat — right from the meetings of the ‘G-23’ group, to the resignations of the state Congress chiefs — made front page headlines in the Urdu press.

In an editorial on 15 March, Inquilab wrote that it is high time that the Congress woke up and realised that in recent years it has no achievement to show, while a party as new as the Aam Aadmi Party has managed to form governments in two states of the country. The paper’s opening line was: “Is Congress on the verge of decline or is decimation itself walking to embrace the party?”

In an editorial on 12 March titled ‘Questions over the identity of the Congress’, Siasat wrote out a prescription for the revival of the party, which included “resumption of dialogue with the masses” and the election of a full-time president. The paper also wrote that if the party lost more state elections, then there would be no hope left for it to register a good performance in the general elections (of 2024).

In a related editorial on the same day, Roznama argued that the Uttar Pradesh election results seem to suggest that instead of issues like unemployment, farmer woes and women’s safety, elections henceforth will only be fought along communal lines and as such, the need of the hour is for the opposition to bring itself up as a credible alternative to BJP and build its base among the public or there is no hope for change.

Ukraine crisis

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continued, so did the coverage of the crisis. On 13 March, Siasat carried on its front page a report about the bombing of the Sultan Suleiman mosque in Mariupol. The next day, it carried a report on the killing of 35 civilians in an attack near the Poland border.

In an editorial on 13 March titled ‘Studying abroad is a choice or a compulsion’, Inquilab wrote that while it is unlikely that lessons will be learnt from the woes faced by Indian students in Ukraine before their evacuation, it is certain that unless new educational institutions are set up in the country, things cannot be expected to change.

The Kashmir Files

On 17 March, Roznama carried an editorial with the title ‘Aadha Sach‘ (half-truth), comparing the film The Kashmir Files to Hitler’s book Mein Kampf and referring to the theories of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

“Goebbels said that if you tell a lie and keep repeating it, the lie will soon begin to seem like the truth, and the bigger the lie, the more popular it will be. The second principle of control over the media was also formulated by Goebbels. As propaganda minister, he had control over all the media of Germany, and he was of the opinion that the media should be controlled so that you could play any tune you wanted on his instrument. Even today, the principle is popular. The latest example of this is the film called The Kashmir Files and the way its propaganda is being done by BJP governments in states and the Centre by making it tax-free.”

The editorial also claimed that not just Kashmiri Hindus, but many Muslims had also died in the state during the troubled 1990s.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: TV news had time for UP, Ukraine, Kashmir, Congress. What if Pakistan had misfired a missile?


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