A Haryana government-circulated magazine ran a controversial advertisement hailing the age-old practice of ‘purdah’ as its pride. For a state that has one of the country’s worst sex ratios—879 females for every 1,000 males—promoting the regressive practice further adds to the biases against women.
According to the Navbharat Times, the March issue of Haryanvi magazine Krishi Samvad (Dialogue with Farmers) held a picture of a woman in veil on its last page, and next to her is a door with a phrase painted on it, which stated that veiled women are the pride and the identity of the state. The cover page carried the photo of a smiling Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the very man who should crack down on such archaic ideas.
“It is not mandatory that there should be a ghoonghat, and we do not propagate that,” said Anil Vij, senior minister in the Khattar government, adding, “At the same time it is true that this (ghoonghat) is a practice in certain places and to that nobody can have an objection.” They intend to probe this further by examining the context in which the advertisement was published.
In the meanwhile, many politicians and apolitical but prominent people have slammed the Manohar Lal Khattar government for this reckless hypocrisy, especially after it flagged off a slew of initiatives for women empowerment.
“The regressive and parochial mentality lies in the thought process of the BJP government in Haryana. Does the Manohar Lal Khattar government not realise that Haryana’s women have not only brought laurels to the state but also the country?” said Congress’s Randeep Surjewala.
In fact, the 28-year-old freestyle wrestler Geeta Phogat, one of the Phogat sisters who have risen from the state in the international world of sport, also commented on the issue. In a statement to NDTV, she mentioned,”We have come from a place where girls are kept behind a veil, not allowed to come out… go to school. My father pulled us out from such a state… helped us reach where we are. It isn’t women behind a veil, but women who are coming forward who are Haryana’s pride.”
Back in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also launched the Beti Padhao campaign in Haryana’s Panipat district. In fact, this year’s Miss India winner was also Manushi Chhillar, a young Haryanvi girl.