Government Magazine in Haryana Praises Veil, Sparks Controversy

The recent issue of Krishi Samvad, a supplement of the monthly state government magazine Haryana Samvad, carried a photograph of a veiled woman, describing it as the “identity of the state”.

File Photo: Women in the traditional Indian veil ‘ghoonghat’. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mohsyn/Zainab Zaidi

Chandigarh: A photo caption in a Haryana government magazine describing ghoonghat (veil) as the “identity of the state” has sparked a controversy, with the opposition saying it reflected the “regressive” mindset of the BJP government.

However, senior minister Anil Vij dismissed the opposition charge, saying that BJP government had taken a number of steps for women empowerment and was not endorsing that women should be forced to keep a ghoongat.

The recent issue of Krishi Samvad, a supplement of the Haryana Samvad magazine, a monthly magazine published by the State government, carries a photograph of a veiled woman. The woman’s face can be seen covered with a ghoongat. The woman is seen carrying cattle feed on her head, even as the caption reads: “Ghoongat ki aan-baan, mahra Haryana ki pechchan (pride of the veil is the identity of my Haryana”. The front cover of the same magazine carries the photo of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Reacting sharply to the description, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it reflected the regressive attitude of the ruling BJP government.

“This shows regressive mindset of the BJP government. Women from Haryana are ahead in every field. Just three days back, a young woman from the state was crowned as Miss India. Girls from the state have made a mark in sports arena and other fields. India-born US astronaut late Kalpana Chawla hailed from Haryana,” Hooda said.

Hooda also contested the claim that the veil is a part of Haryana’s culture to begin with. “Women wearing veil was not the original culture of Haryana. This practice started only after foreign invasions and because of the fear of invaders. In south India, there was no purdah system. Therefore, what I want to say is that BJP government wants to move back in time rather than thinking ahead and taking the state forward.”

Meanwhile Surjewala said it was a symptom of the “regressive mindset and objectification of women, which is part of the DNA of the BJP”. “The BJP government has failed to realise that Haryana girls and women have excelled in fields such as space science, sports and the armed forces to name just a few.”

Anil Vij dismissed the criticism from the opposition saying, “What you are seeing in a government magazine should only be seen as what was Haryana’s tradition. Nowhere are we saying that we want to force veil on women. We are in favour of women empowerment and we have done a lot in this regard”.

Vij claimed that the sex ratio of Haryana has improved from 862 to 950 as a result of the steps taken by the state government.

“We are committed to women’s education and have decided to open colleges for women after every 20 km. As regards the photo in the magazine, this has been the tradition in some parts of the state, but it is not binding.We are not forcing anyone to wear ghoongat. It is not like burqa and only those women who want to do ghoongat, it is as per their wish,” Vij said.

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