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Karnataka: As row goes on, many students in hijab sent back by schools, parents protest

On Tuesday, several schools in multiple districts denied entry to students wearing hijab, with many returning home. Such incidents were reported from Kodagu, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Koppal and Belagavi districts.

Written by Kiran Parashar | Bengaluru |
Updated: February 16, 2022 7:38:23 am
Parents of female Muslim students talk to school officials and police after the students were asked to take off 'hijab' before entering the school campus, at a government school at Indavara, near Chikmagalur, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (PTI)

While tension is simmering in most districts of Karnataka over demonstrations by a section of students in favour of wearing hijab to classrooms, and protests by another section opposing it, colleges in the state are set to resume from Wednesday after remaining closed for a week to alleviate the situation.

On Tuesday, several schools in multiple districts denied entry to students wearing hijab, with many returning home. Such incidents were reported from Kodagu, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Koppal and Belagavi districts.

Many students, either attending Urdu schools or who took Urdu as a subject, boycotted classes after they were asked to remove their hijab, sources said.

Parents came to the school and protested against the authorities’ decision to debar their children from wearing headscarves.

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The Karnataka the High Court is hearing a petition by several girl students from the Muslim community over the ban on wearing hijab in classrooms. In an interim-order, the court had last week said that no religious attire will be allowed inside educational institutions until an order is passed.

Education Minister B C Nagesh confirmed that Pre-University (or PU — for classes XI and XII) colleges will resume on Wednesday.

At Shivamogga High School, a student boycotted school-level exams after she was not allowed to enter the examination hall wearing a hijab. “We have grown up wearing the hijab since childhood. We cannot give it up,” the student (name withheld to protect identity) told the media. “I will not write the exams and will go home.”

In Bagalkot Government Girl’s High School, only one student out of 19 Muslim girl students attend classes. A parent said they did not send their children to school since hijab was not allowed, “but we have learnt one student attended classes, which is her choice”.

The school authorities said they have convinced parents to send their children to school from Wednesday.

At a government institution in Indavara village of Chikkamagaluru district, girls in hijab were not let inside the school and were asked to return home, sources said. Their parents soon reached the school and staged a protest. According to information, they raised slogans and demanded that the school authorities give the order in writing.

As protests intensified, one student, sources said, pulled out a saffron scarf from his school bag but put it back on directions of teachers. Sensing the tense situation, the principal closed the school for the day, it is learnt.

Several parents also protested at SVS School, in the district headquarter town of Tumakuru, after school authorities turned away students wearing hijab.

Campus Front of India (CFI) state president Athavulla Punjalakatte urged the authorities to take action against those forcing students and teachers to remove headscarf and burqa outside the campus. He also accused the media for obstructing privacy of these women.

Amid tension in campuses in several districts over the hijab issue, colleges were closed across the state on February 9 — these include PU colleges, first grade, postgraduate colleges, universities, and technical educational institutions.

State Higher Education Minister C N Ashwath Narayan said all colleges under the department will reopen on Wednesday and will follow the High Court’s interim order. The institutions will take appropriate action to prevent untoward incidents, he said.

On Tuesday, the hijab issue was discussed in the state Assembly as well, with Congress legislator U T Khader expressing concern over “confusion and interpretation” of the court order. Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy stated that the government is committed to implement the court’s order.

Khader said, “The court order is for colleges but we see reports of some schools in Shivamogga district where students were not allowed to write class X preparatory exams. In some cases the dress code has been wrongly interpreted, as even teachers and the staff are not being permitted to wear headscarves.”

A senior police officer said police have organised peace meetings in sensitive areas of the state, which has worked at a few places. All district police have been asked to monitor the situation and ensure law and order is not affected.

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