Indian presidential candidate Pratibha Patil says veil adopted to protect Indian women from Mughal invaders; historians say she’s wrong.
BY OUR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
June 19, 2007
The presidential candidate of the UPA and the Left parties, Pratibha Patil, shocked historians and muslim social activists by saying that the purdah (veil) system started in India with the advent of the Mughal invaders. Patil made the controversial remark in Udaipur at the 467th birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap. According to news reports, Patil commented that Indian culture always respected women, but the veil system was introduced to protect Indian women from the Mughal invaders. We had the concept of purdah to protect women from Mughal invaders. So, they stayed indoors and were veiled, Patil is reported to have said.
Today we are citizens of free India. There is need to put a stop to such practices. That alone will ensure real respect for women. When women are progressing in every field, it is our duty to discontinue such practices,� said Patil.
Patil was expounding what really is a popularly held belief in India. Historians were quick to refute the belief that the veil system emerged with the coming of the Mughal invaders. Historians have pointed out that the purdah system was prevalent before the arrival of the Mughals. Historian Varsha Joshi of the Institute of Rajasthan studies is reported to have said, “”There is evidence of construction of separate `zanana’ chambers for women in the Chittaurgarh fort in the 11th century.”
Muslim leaders have also not taken kindly to the claim that the Purdah system was a fall-out of Mughal invasions and feel that statements like this only underscore the narrow view of history that is propagated by the Sangh Parivar.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Param Navdeep, is reported to have defended Pratibha Patil by saying that Patil’s remarks must be seen in the light of the life of the erstwhile Mewar ruler. “There should be no controversy about it. It is an established fact that women were the target of aggression during the Mughal rule,” she said.
Pratibha Patil’s remarks on women and purdah appears to stem from the fact the she plans to base her campaign on being the first woman president of India, if she were to win. She has been quoted as saying that her candidature for the top position is a step in the empowerment of Indian women.
Ever since the announcement of her candidature, Pratibha Patil has been busy meeting top leaders before she starts her campaign. Patil has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Union HRD minister Arjun Singh, Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Gandhi, and Jan Morcha leader V P Singh.
Patil will file her nomination papers on June 23 or June 25, 2007 after she resigns from the post of governor of Rajasthan.
Allegations against me are false and malicious: Pratibha Patil
From our ANI Correspondent
Chennai, July 1: The UPA-Left presidential nominee Pratibha Patil today refuted allegations levelled against her and termed them false and malicious.
Commenting on the allegations levelled against her cooperative bank’s financial misconduct and other charges, Patil said: “All allegations against me are false and malicious.”
This is the first time that Patil has commented on the accusations levelled against her in a public domain.
She attended a dinner hosted in her honour by the DMK-coalition leaders in the State, which was also attended by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and other senior leaders from the Congress, the PMK and the Left parties.
The opposition BJP, which has nominated ‘independent’ candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as the presidential nominee, has asked the UPA to withdraw her candidature in the wake of ‘revelations’.
However, both Congress and Left have come out in support of Patil and termed accusations hurled by BJP on Patil as “slander and baseless”.
Recently, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had also termed it as ‘mudslinging’.