‘Hijab’ row takes political colour in Karnataka
Bengaluru, Feb. 5 (PTI): The ‘hijab’ row has taken political colour in Karnataka, as the ruling BJP stood strongly in support of uniform related rules followed by educational institutions, calling the headscarf, a religious symbol, while the opposition Congress has come out in support of Muslim girls.
There have been several instances in coastal Karnataka, where Muslim girl students, turning up at colleges in hijab, not being allowed into classes, and Hindu boys responding with saffron shawls as a counter to it.
The issue that initially began in January at a government PU College in Udupi where six students who attended classes wearing headscarves in violation of the stipulated dress code were sent out, has now spread to a few other colleges in nearby Kundapur and Byndoor.
There have also been reports of similar instances of students turning up at educational institutions with either hijab or saffron shawl in Ramdurg PU College in Belagavi and a college in Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga, and also a group of girls staging demonstration at Bannimantapa (Mysuru) in favour of the hijab.
Meanwhile, Congress Legislature Party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who has thrown his weight behind Muslim girls on their right to wear the hijab to educational institutions, accused the BJP and RSS of trying to create communal disharmony throughout the State in the name of Hijab.
He urged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to immediately put a brake to this and arrest those who instigate people.
Further claiming that the main agenda of the Sangh Parivar is to deny education to Muslim girls in the name of Hijab, Siddaramaiah said, PM Narendra Modi speaks about ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’. “Is he not aware of this incident?”
“The Constitution has given the right to practice any religion which means one can wear any clothes according to their religion.
Prohibiting ‘Hijab’ wearing students from entering school is a violation of fundamental rights,” he added.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP’s state president and Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel said the government will not allow hijab at educational institutions and will take strict measures to ensure that things go as per rules of the school, and won’t let things be turned into “Taliban like”.
“There is a BJP government in this state, there is no room for hijab or any other related incidents. Schools are temples of mother Saraswathi (goddess of education); everyone should abide by rules and regulations there. Bringing religion there is not right, what students need is education, if someone can’t follow rules they can choose their path elsewhere,” he said.
Kateel also hit out at Siddaramaiah accusing him of bringing in divisive policies like celebrating Tipu jayanti and schemes like ‘Shadi Bhagya’ among others aimed at creating rift between the communities, when he was CM.
With the issue snowballing into a major controversy and the matter coming up before the High Court, the Chief Minister on Friday held a meeting with Law and Education departments, and the government has asked educational institutions to follow existing uniform related rules, until the Court comes out with an order in this regard, next week.
The Karnataka High Court on February 8 will hear the petitions filed by five girls studying in a Government Pre-university College in Udupi, questioning hijab restriction in college.
JD leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, hitting out at both the BJP and Congress for the controversy, said instead of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’, they are trying to make it “Beti Hatao”, “they should stop it.”
He asked the government to maintain the status quo at institutions where hijab was allowed till now, and not to allow it at places where it has started recently.
“Instead of Hindu-Muslim issue, children being used for such thing is more dangerous,” he added.
Calling hijab row, a systematic conspiracy, Kannada and Culture Minister V Sunil Kumar said, hijab or burka can be worn from home to college premises, but on entering classrooms everyone should wear uniform and it is the system.
“Some people using students are trying to project that there is some kind of anarchy in Karnataka. Siddaramaiah and others are saying wearing hijab is individual freedom, let them demand for allowing women inside Mosques,” he said, adding that there is a plan to give legal framework to uniform dress code at educational institutions.
BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal alleged that hijab row is a conspiracy by anti-national elements to defame and destabilise the country like it happened in the case of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and unfortunately Congress is also politicising it.
BJP MP Prathap Simha said those who cannot follow rules regarding uniform and want to wear religious symbols like hijab should go to ‘madrasas’ instead of colleges .
On his part, Congress MLA Tanveer Sait said the hijab row is politically motivated ahead of elections in the state. Linking hijab to the safety of women and girls, he said, it is unnecessarily being made a controversy and the issue should be resolved amicably by talking to everyone concerned. “The Education department should come out with clarity and rules in this regard, by talking to all stakeholders.”