Gujarat is known as the laboratory for all Right experiments. When the Swadeshi Jagran Manch was active in the 90’s opposing then Prime Minister Manmohansingh’s liberalisation, Gujarat was the first place where a Baskins and Robins ice cream parlour was attacked.
Any experiment that the RSS has on its mind; it is Gujarat that provides a fertile field.
However, for change things are different now. We cannot vouch for how long but it was indeed a good feeling to see Amdavadi women moving carefree in Hijab and even young girls celebrating Valentines’ Day. Usually, self-anointed Hindu dharma defenders, mostly under the banner of Bajrang Dal. Duraga Vahini or VHP spoil the revelry.
The Karnataka hijab controversy may have reignited the issue of personal liberty, but Gujarat — especially its commercial capital Ahmedabad — surprised one and all with Hijab wearing women roaming fearlessly and enjoying themselves.
Saloni Brahmbhatt and Krishna Singh, two reporters of Vibes of India, decided to get adventurous, wore hijabs and walked hand-in-hand on the Sabarmati Riverfront as a couple making the most of the day. Their Hijab or the roses did not invite any ire from those who had earlier claimed that Valentines Day would be celebrated as Matru Pitru Ruen Day (Parents Worship Day).
Vibes of India (VO!) also checked out other Muslim localities and women were okay. This new “mind your business” attitude was a pleasant one. Vibes of India which believes in truth and inclusive reporting thought it prudent to pen down the fact that Gujarat is not as gory as it is portrayed. At least right now.
Through the day, the young reporters did not find any objections nor did anyone bother to take a second look at them.
Speaking of their test drive, Saloni and Krishna beamed, “We felt relieved that no one was giving any extra attention and no one was throwing hateful gazes at us. It instilled a little confidence that Muslim women can wear the attire of their choice as it should be and feel safe”.
And their experience on the Gujarat University premises was equally heart-warming. “When we entered Gujarat University, we saw a few women clad in scarves or dupattas of different colours that covered their entire heads in a similar way owing to the harsh sun of Ahmedabad,” Saloni said, simply wondering why Karnataka should be worked up about this.
And Krishna quipped, “We entered wearing the hijab and somehow blended right in. No big deal at all. And we weren’t only the two of us, there were others too.”
Vibes of India reporters spoke to some burqa-clad girl students at various places and they were equally surprised that this should be an issue at all.
“I always wear a burqa when I go to college and I have never faced issues from any college students or faculties,” a first-year student of Silver Oak University shrugged. She requested anonymity for obvious apprehensions about speaking to the media.
Another girl at the same private university exclaimed, “Most Muslim girls in my class do not wear burqa but I choose to wear it at college.” I am not made to feel out of place. This is Gujarat, she smiled. Asked about the Udupi hijab issue, she shrugged, “We go to educational institutes to study and that should be our focus. What anyone wears should not matter to us or others.”
Pictures and Videos: Hanif Sindhi