Jaipur- Amidst the ongoing controversy in Rajasthan surrounding the prohibition of hijab and the installation of Saraswati idols in schools, Tanjim Merani, a college student and social activist from Ahmedabad, popularly known as the Tiranga Girl, has garnered attention once again, this time for embarking on an indefinite hunger strike at VT Ground in the Mansarovar area of Jaipur. Notably, the hunger strike is taking place in the legislative constituency of Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhajanlal Sharma, adding a layer of significance to the ongoing protest.
Tanjim has been actively campaigning against the wearing of hijab in schools and colleges nationwide. Emphasizing the sanctity of educational institutions as spaces for learning rather than religious propagation, she staunchly advocates against permitting the use of hijab in academic settings.
Commencing on February 1st, Tanzim's hunger strike received a five-day administrative allowance at VT Ground. As of the latest update on February 4, she remains steadfast in her resolve, emphasizing that if her demands are not met, the hunger strike will persist.
Tanzim candidly reveals that she has faced threats and numerous fatwas in the past, yet remains steadfast in her commitment to the ongoing movement. She declares that the campaign will persist until the expeditious implementation of both the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Uniform Citizenship Code, coupled with an unequivocal ban on hijab in educational institutions.
Tanzim, firmly asserting her individual choice, emphasizes that her Muslim background should not dictate her attire in schools, colleges, or government offices. Her position underscores a broader principle of personal freedom and choice, irrespective of religious affiliation, in the context of educational and professional spaces. She announced her intention to refrain from drinking water starting Sunday evening.
Tanzim's father, Amir Merani, stands firmly beside his daughter in this movement. Dismissing the notion that a Muslim girl should inevitably wear a hijab, he questions whether, if a Muslim girl were to ascend to the position of a collector, she would be expected to don the hijab while occupying such a role. He emphatically states that such an expectation is untenable.
In 2016, Tanzim gained recognition when she attempted to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, despite facing impediments due to the heightened tension following an encounter with a Pakistani-supported Islamic terrorist organization. She later succeeded in hoisting the tricolor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2017 during a period of national unrest marked by open slogans of Pakistan Zindabad.
The Hijab controversy in Jaipur was ignited by BJP MLA Balmukund Acharya, who objected to Muslim students wearing hijabs at a government school in the Walled City area during Republic Day celebrations. In a video, Acharya is seen questioning the dress code and expressing disapproval over some students wearing hijabs. This dispute gained momentum when the MLA visited a school and allegedly objected to girls wearing urqa and hijab, urging adherence to a strict dress code. Subsequently, Muslim girls protested the next day, gathering in large numbers to demand an apology from the MLA and staging a demonstration at Subash Chowk police station. Agriculture minister Dr Kirodilal Meena and Education Minister Madan Dilwar supported Balmukund Acharya's stance, advocating for the prohibition of hijabs in schools. While Meena said that he would speak with the CM regarding prohibition of hijab completely in educational institutions, minister Madan Dilawar said that orders for an investigation into the atmosphere at schools across the state will soon be given. He added that no conversions based on religion would be allowed.
On January 30, Madan Dilawar, announced a directive mandating the installation of Maa Saraswati idols in all schools across the state, coupled with the enforcement of a meticulous dress code. The order emphasized the compulsory placement of the Maa Saraswati idol at the principal entrance of both government and private educational institutions.