A woman sarpanch from a conservative community removed her ghunghat (veil) after state Education Minister Jitu Vaghani urged her to shun the custom at an event in Gujarat’s Mehsana district, an official said on Friday.
When 35-year-old Meenaba Zala, who belongs to the Rajput community, came on stage to present a memento to Vaghani as part of his felicitation at Rantej village on Thursday, the minister noticed that she had covered her entire face with her saree.
READ | ‘Crime of extreme depravity’: SC upholds death sentence of man for brutal rape-murder
Vaghani then urged Meenaba to shun this tradition at least during public events.
“I believe that she should not cover her face at least at public events. It is just my request and it is up to the elders to decide,” Vaghani said in a lighter vein.
When a person from the audience said they were Rajputs and hence, their women stay behind veils, the minister said it was not about any caste and he is not against this tradition.
“This is not about any caste. I request Meenaba to remove the head covering. I am not against this tradition. But we all need to adapt to changing times. This is only my request, and the village elders have to take a final call on this. Bring your women out of this tradition. Make them equal,” Vaghani appealed from the stage.
Convinced by Vaghani’s suggestion, a Rajput community elder Gaubha Zala in the audience gave permission to the woman sarpanch to remove her veil.
“Vaghani urged me to come out of this tradition at least when I am attending public events as a sarpanch. He even urged the community elders, sitting in audience, to come forward and shun the practice to bring equality. Without forcing anyone, Vaghani said the villagers need to decide on this,” Meenaba told PTI on Friday.
The minister was assured that Rajput women in the village will not cover their faces in public and follow the ghunghat practice only at home from now onwards, said Meenaba, who is the first woman sarpanch of Rantej.