Raghuraj Singh, minister of state at the labour ministry in Uttar Pradesh, was speaking at a Sunday event in Agra when he asked the government to ban the burqa, claiming that Muslim women wear the traditional veil because they were the descendants of Suparnakha, a mythological character in a Hindu epic Ramayana, whose nose was chopped off by Lakshman, brother and companion of Lord Rama, during his 14-year penance in the forests.
Singh went on with his explosive remarks by saying that burqas are worn by terrorists to conceal their identity, while referring to protests by women against a controversial citizenship law. This legislation grants citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who arrived in India before 2015, but leaves out Muslim immigrants.
“The system of burqa has come from Arab [sic]. They hide their face because Lord Lakshman had cut off their ears and nose. They wear burqas because they are the descendants of the demon. Only the descendants of demons can wear a burqa. No ordinary person can wear a burqa. I would also appeal to the country’s government to ban burqas because terrorists enter our country, wearing burqas. So, my fellow citizens, we have to unite because it is necessary to eliminate these goons”, Singh was heard saying in a video clip.
The statement triggered a debate on social media as several backed the minister over the ban while saying that India should follow in the footsteps of Sri Lanka, which ordered a complete prohibition on all types of veils including burqas.