Kozhikode: Distancing itself from the 'hijab row', CPM on Tuesday said party state council member K Anil Kumar's remarks were personal and not in line with the party stand.
"The choice of attire is an individual's right and is part of the democratic right as envisaged by the Constitution," CPM state secretary M V Govindan said.
The state secretary acknowledged that CPM State Committee member Anil Kumar had mentioned the sartorial choices of Muslim women during his talk at the 'Atheist Seminar'. Then, as an instruction to Anil Kumar, Govindan recalled the CPM stand on the 'hijab row' in Karnataka. "The party had objected to making the sartorial choices of individuals a subject for the courts to decide," he said.
In February 2022, based on an order issued by the then BJP-led Karnataka government, a number of educational institutions in Karnataka prohibited the entry of hijab-wearing students. The Karnataka High Court had ruled against the students and later the Supreme Court gave a split verdict; one judge backing the High Court order and the other finding fault with it.
Then, the CPM argued that the 'hijab ban' was part of the Sangh Parivar scheme to downgrade Muslims as second-class citizens. The party had so strongly backed the hijab-clad students that it had in 2022 argued that the hijab was as much an essential religious practice as the Sikh turban.
And now for Anil Kumar to claim credit for certain Muslim women throwing away the hijab came as a major embarrassment to the CPM, which under Pinarayi Vijayan has rigorously stayed away from commenting on matters of Muslim faith.
"The choice of dress was the democratic right of every individual. The central leadership of the party had made this clear when the hijab controversy had erupted," Govindan said and then reprimanded Anil Kumar. "No one needs to take a stand that would encroach upon an individual's democratic right to wear the attire of her choice. Therefore, Anil Kumar's stand is at variance with the party's," he said.
Addressing an atheist conference organised by Essence Global in Thiruvananthapuram, Anil Kumar said Muslim girls in Malappuram were rejecting hijab today due to CPM's presence in Kerala.
LDF MLA K T Jaleel and MP A M Ariff also strongly condemned Anil Kumar's statement.
"Getting rid of hijab is not a sign of development. The Communist Party has not persuaded any Muslim girl to abandon the hijab. Projecting one's personal opinion as the party line will lead to misunderstanding," Jaleel wrote in a Facebook post.
Muslim Students Federation leader Fatima Tahlia also slammed Anil Kumar for his comments. "The CPM, which celebrates Muslim girls without hijab as a feat, must be riddled with Islamophobia. Not just sanghis, even saffron Communists are allergic to hijab. CPM is RSS's A team in Kerala. BJP is just the B team," she said.