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NDTV twists ‘pro-choice’ comment of boxer Nikhat Zareen to legitimise Karnataka hijab row, other media houses amplify misinformation

The deliberate misinformation peddled by NDTV was then further amplified by other news portals such as The Quint and Times Now.

Days after Nikhat Zareen brought accolades to India by winning gold at the Women’s Boxing World Championships, leftist media portal NDTV deliberately misquoted her to give credence to the Karnataka hijab row.

The ace boxer was invited as a guest during a program on NDTV to speak about her life after winning the gold medal in Istanbul. During the event, the interviewer zeroed in on her Muslim identity in the hopes of pushing a political narrative.

Aaj kal bahut charcha chal rahi hai whether girls should wear hijab in public places or not? What is your opinion about wearing a hijab?” the NDTV anchor asked. Given that it was a general question about a woman’s right to wear a hijab, Nikhat Zareen emphasized that the decision must be left to women.

“It is totally their own choice. I can not comment on their choices. I have my own choice (referring to her sports gear). I like to wear such clothes. I do not mind wearing such clothes. My family does not mind me wearing such clothes. So, I do not care what people say about me,” remarked Nikhat Zareen.

She further added, “But if they want to wear hijab and follow their religion, it’s their personal choice. I don’t have any problem with them wearing hijabs. After all, it’s their own choice. I am okay with that.”

As can be seen from her response, nowhere did Nikhat Zareen speak about the ‘right to wear hijab in schools’ or to make exceptions for anyone when it comes to school uniforms. However, this did not stop NDTV from quoting her out of context and suggesting that she supports the right of the ‘hijabi girls’ of Karnataka to take classes in their religious attire.

Screengrab of the news report by NDTV

NDTV published an article on Monday (May 23) titled, ‘On Hijab Row, Boxing Champ Nikhat Zareen’s Pro-Choice Strike.’ Interestingly, the first line of the article itself misled the readers into believing that the ace boxer spoke about the Karnataka hijab row.

“Boxing world champion Nikhat Zareen on Monday weighed in on the smouldering controversy over Muslim girls wearing the hijab in schools and colleges, saying one’s attire was entirely the subject of their choice,” NDTV claimed in its article.

Screengrab of the news report by NDTV

The Quint, Times Now shares misinformation peddled by NDTV

The deliberate misinformation peddled by NDTV was then further amplified by other news portals such as The Quint and Times Now. Both news portals had cited NDTV as the source of their claims.

“World boxing champion Nikhat Zareen on Monday, 23 May, spoke on the controversy regarding Muslim girls wearing hijab in educational institutions, saying that a person’s attire was completely their choice”, The Quint had erroneously claimed.

Screengrab of the news report by The Quint

Times Now went a step further ahead and claimed, “She weighed in on the controversy surrounding Muslim girls wearing Hijab in schools and colleges that the Karnataka High Court ruled was a violation of institutional discipline which is above personal choice.”

Screengrab of the news report by Times Now

Karnataka Hijab row and the test of essentiality in religion

The Karnataka Hijab row started out in January this year at a Pre-University College in Udupi where a group of 6 Muslim girls insisted that they be allowed to take classes in their hijab.

Given that uniforms were in existence at the said PU college since 1985, the school administration refused to relent to their religious diktat. Thereafter, the girls refused to enter classrooms and began holding protests within the premises of the college.

With the backing of Islamist outfits such as PFI and Campus Front of India, the ‘hijab movement’ spread to other schools and colleges in Karnataka. Leftist propaganda media outlets hopped on the bandwagon of ‘Islamophobia’ to defame India at an international level.

They cast aspersions about a ‘blanket ban on hijab in India’ whereas the dispute was only limited to the wearing of religious attire (hijab) in secular educational institutions. The hijab row witnessed the mobilization of Islamists and counter-protests by Hindu students, demanding the concept of uniformity in schools.

When the matter reached the Karnataka High Court, it ruled that Hijab is not an essential practice in Islam and that uniform is a reasonable restriction on the ‘Right to Religion.’

In a typical move for the news channel, NDTV tried to use Nikhat Zareen’s general opinion, about women’s liberty to wear clothes of their choice, to legitimize the demands of Muslim students to wear hijab in schools even though Court has already settled the issue with their ruling.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Fascinated by Indian politics

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