Tuesday, May 17

Amid Hijab vs Saffron Scarves, Karnataka Bans “Clothes That Disturb Law”

Karnataka has seen an escalating row over religious attires since last month with right-wing groups in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru objecting to Muslim girls attending classes wearing hijabs.

Bengaluru: A spiralling controversy over hijabs or headscarves worn by Muslim women in schools and colleges in Karnataka, including a march of Hindu students wearing saffron scarves and shouting slogans, prompted the state government on Saturday to ban clothes “which disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

“Invoking 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act-1983, which says a uniform style of clothes has to be worn compulsorily. The private school administration can choose a uniform of their choice,” the government order said, adding that students have to follow a dress code chosen by authorities.

“In the event of the administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn,” the order said.

“The education department has noticed that in some education institutions, the boys and girls have started behaving according to their religion, which hurts the equality and unity,” it added.

Karnataka has seen an escalating row over religious attires since last month with right-wing groups in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru objecting to Muslim girls attending classes wearing hijabs.

The controversy quickly spread to other parts of the state with groups of Hindu students showing up to class in saffron scarves.

On Saturday, videos from Kundapur in the Udupi district showed boys and girls wearing the scarves over their college uniforms and raising slogans of “Jai Shri Ram (praise Lord Ram)”.

With the issue now set to come up before the high court, Chief Minister Bommai on Friday held a meeting with Law and Education departments – which seems to have led to the new order.

On Tuesday, the Karnataka High Court will hear petitions filed by five girls studying in a government pre-university college in Udupi, questioning hijab restrictions.

The face-off has also taken a political turn as Congress leaders supported those wearing hijabs while the ruling BJP said it will not allow “Talibanisation” of education institutions.

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress accused the BJP and RSS of trying to spark communal strife throughout the state and urged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to immediately arrest those who instigate people.

“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 said.

The 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 the rules of the school.

 

 

“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.

Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy hit out at both the BJP and Congress, asking the government to allow hijabs in places where it was allowed till now, and ban them at places where it was started recently.

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