JIND: A day after Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha demanded that girls be banned from wearing jeans, its general secretary Naveen Tyagi, speaking to Times Now, said the right-wing outfit was going to move the Supreme Court to declare “item girls” as prostitutes.

“We’re holding talks with our leaders. Once the Supreme Court declares them prostitutes, they (item girls) will obviously be boycotted by society,” Tyagi told a Times Now correspondent.

Claiming to be working for the safety and security of women, Tyagi said all item girls and heroines who wear skimpy clothes are prostitutes. This matter, he said, is with their “capable” lawyers – the reason he wasn’t willing to speak about it in public yet – but added that the Mahasabha’s Meerut unit is helping compile video clips of dancing item girls to the Supreme Court saying airing or showing of women in such clothes lead to heinous crimes.

Meanwhile, contesting Monday’s reports that said the Mahasabha was against girls wearing jeans, its Haryana spokesman Lalit Bhardwaj said, “We’re not against girls wearing jeans but against girls wearing skimpy clothes.” The outfit had demanded a dress code for girls in schools and colleges and a ban on mobile phones on their premises “to check increasing obscenity”.

Asked about the Mahasabha’s stand, BJP spokesman Sambit Mahapatra told Times Now, “The BJP can’t speak on their behalf. The BJP is for the freedom of society. Let the women of the country decide what they study, what they wear, and how they choose to live their lives. India is proud to have women who’ve led from the front and made the country proud. Any organization that speaks in a demeaning way of women will have to face the fire of the day.”

Haryana vice president of ABHM Dharmapal Siwach told reporters, “Girls’ attire should cover the body and not be indecent. Moreover, girls should be banned from wearing tight jeans and tops.” He added that the two braveheart sisters in Rohtak, who took on three alleged molesters on board a moving Haryana roadways bus, will be felicitated with ‘Veer Savarkar’ bravery award on Wednesday.

Times View

The Hindu Mahasabha leader’s comments on what kind of clothes women should wear and why item girls should be treated as prostitutes smacks of the medieval mindset that is exhibited by outfits like the Taliban or the Islamic State. What is alarming is that such statements are becoming increasingly frequent in India from right wing groups of all hues, some citing religion and others caste traditions as their justification for moral policing. The prime minister should be aware that at least some of these groups feel emboldened by the perception that there is now a government that is sympathetic to their viewpoint. Mr Modi has repeatedly emphasized that he wants to build a modern India that can hold its head high in the global community. Unless such groups are reined in, India’s image can only take a beating, at home and abroad.