NEW DELHI – In April this year, 46-year-old Charanjeet Kaur, who wears dastar, filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Hijab ban in Karnataka’s educational institutions.
Kaur, who is a Sikh from Haryana’s Kaithal, think that bad thing like Hijab can happen against them also.
“Today, they are attacking Hijabi girls. But I too wear a dastar (turban). I can’t think ‘this won’t effect me.’ All of us women should think that if such a bad thing can happen with the Hijabi girls, it could happen with us too. When there’s fire in someone else’s home, it can spread to our home too,” Kaur tells The Quint.
Talking about the turban which she has worn since 2007, she said “This turban is now an important part of my life. For as long as I live, this will remain with me. We are not forced to take part in the Amrit Sanchar ceremony, this is out of choice. Once you realise the importance of this clothing, you want to wear it all your life,” Kaur says.
Kaur says that ever since she chose to wear the turban, everyone has been respectful of her choice.
“I can wear this turban, no one stops me, no one questions me. If someone stops me, I will take them head on. In fact I won’t even tolerate being questioned over my turban. So why are the Hijabi girls being stopped from wearing the Hijab? People say her wearing the Hijab will affect the unity of society, but how? She is wearing her choice of clothing, minding her business…she isn’t hurting anyone,” says Kaur.
Kaur’s job as an ASHA worker involves going from village to village, raising awareness about vaccines or family planning, among other things. Many of her colleagues wear the ghunghat while at their job.
“Our Hindu sisters cover their heads while working, while going to temples, or they wear sindoor in their hair. But we won’t ever say to them, “What is this that you are wearing? Take it off. Our unity is getting hurt’.”
In Kaur’s view, to associate head coverings with Islam and Muslim women alone is to neglect Indian tradition of women covering their heads—regardless of religion.
Kaur’s petition says, “That associating scarf/hijab with the Muslims only is actually an insult to our centuries old tradition and practice of covering our heads which dates back to before the commencement of Islam.”
She cites the example of Pratibha Patil, former Indian president, who would often take her saree’s loose end over her head. “So who says that covering the head is exclusive to Muslim women?,” she questions.