State ministers Anil Vij and Ram Bilas Sharma dismissed the opposition charge, saying the BJP government has taken a number of steps for women empowerment and was not endorsing that women should be forced to keep a veil.
A photo caption in a Haryana government magazine has described 'ghoonghat' (veil) as the "identity of the state", sparking a controversy with the opposition saying it reflected the "regressive" mindset of the BJP dispensation.
However, state ministers Anil Vij and Ram Bilas Sharma dismissed the opposition charge, saying the BJP government has taken a number of steps for women empowerment and was not endorsing that women should be forced to keep a veil.
The recent issue of 'Krishi Samvad', a supplement of the monthly 'Haryana Samvad' magazine, published by the state government, carries a photograph of a woman whose face is covered in a veil.
In the picture, the woman is seen carrying cattle feed on her head and the caption reads: "Ghoonghat ki aan-baan, mahra Haryana ki pechchan" (pride of the veil is the identity of my Haryana).
The front cover of the magazine carries the photo of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
Reacting sharply to the photo caption, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it reflected the regressive attitude of the ruling BJP.
"This shows the 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 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.
Recently, Manushi Chhillar from Haryana was crowned Femina Miss India 2017.
"Women wearing veil is 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 the BJP government wants to move back in time rather than thinking ahead and taking the state forward," Hooda said.
Surjewala said a "regressive mindset, parochial thought process and objectification of women has become symbolic of the thought process of the BJP and is reflected in the pages of the magazine."
"Does the Khattar government and the BJP even understand that Haryana's women and girls have been given wings, are aspirational and forward looking. Is this the way we are going to treat Haryana's women? Wake up from your slumber and stop this 'Beti Chupao' (hide daughters) campaign instead of Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao campaign," he said.
"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.
"Are you going to hide the Phogat sisters (wrestlers), Sakshi Malik (wrestler), Saina Nehwal (shuttler), Yashaswani Singh Deswal (shooter)" behind the veil. The government needs to answer this, it is time to stop this regressive mindset," Surjewala said.
Famous wrestler sisters Geeta and Babita Phogat also criticised it.
"I think it will not be right to say that Haryana's identity is related to its women keeping themselves in veil. I think Haryana is also famous because its women have made their mark in every field. Just 2-3 days back, a young woman from the state was crowned Miss India," Geeta said.
Babita Phogat mentioned Aamir Khan starrer blockbuster 'Dangal', based on the life of her father Mahavir Phogat, who defied the pressure of the society and made his daughters wrestlers.
"What has been published in this magazine sends out a wrong message. Also, confusing signals will go out as on one hand this government is promoting 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' and on the other showing them in veil," she said.
"If anything has to be promoted in this magazine, it should be the achievements of the girls and women, be it from Haryana or outside. Stories of Kalpana Chawla, P V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik should be told. We should not forget that at the Rio Olympics last year, it was Sindhu and Sakshi who saved the country's honour," Babita told
(This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)