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Karnataka minister’s statement on Ganesh Chaturthi celebration in schools draws flak

The Campus Front of India, student wing of the hardline outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), condemns B C Nagesh's statement as ‘hypocritical’ given the government’s opposition to girls’ wearing the hijab in classrooms.

Karnataka School Education Minister BC Nagesh (File/Twitter)

Karnataka School Education Minister B C Nagesh said on Wednesday that Ganesha Chaturthi would be celebrated as usual in schools and colleges on August 31, drawing criticism from a Muslim outfit, which termed the statement as “hypocritical” given the government’s opposition to girls’ wearing the hijab in classrooms.

“The schools have complete freedom to celebrate Ganesh Chaturti this year and they can continue to do so just like every year,” Nagesh said in reply to a question at a press conference in Bengaluru.

The Campus Front of India, student wing of the hardline outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), condemned the statement. Athavulla Punjalkatte, state president of the Campus Front, wrote on Twitter, ‘Edu Minister allowing to enshrine Ganesha in govt schools & colleges is an attempt to create unrest in the edu sector & gain political advantage. Its condemnable. Ironically, this is the same minister who once told “no religious practices are allowed in edu institutions.” Shame!!’

Syed Mueen, a student activist, said, “The move to install Ganesha idols and restrict other communities from expressing their religious views is unfair. The government earlier clarified that no religious practices or any form of religious expression including the hijab are not allowed in education institutions. Then why has the government allowed the installation of Ganesha idols? Will this not hurt the sentiments of students of other religious communities?”

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Citing the Karnataka High Court order upholding the government’s ban on the Muslim headscarf, the outfit said the BJP government was hurting the sentiments of other religious communities by “favouring one community”.

The hijab row began in December last year when six pre-university students of a government girls’ college in Udupi district protested against the ban on the hijab. In February, the government issued an order mandating that headscarves and other religious attire would not be allowed in schools and pre-university colleges with dress codes or uniforms.

Dismissing petitions filed by a group of Muslim students, a three-judge bench of the high court on March 15 held that the prescription of uniforms was only a reasonable and constitutionally permissible restriction and that students could not object to it. An appeal against the order is pending in the Supreme Court.

First published on: 17-08-2022 at 06:04:24 pm
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