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As Karnataka schools reopen, Muslim students asked to remove hijab to attend classes

"School managements, principals and parents have the responsibility of obeying the high court,'' Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai said on the issue.

By: Express News Service | Bangalore |
Updated: February 15, 2022 4:51:44 pm
Students wearing hijab stage a protest outside the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College campus, in Udupi district, Karnataka. (PTI/File)

As schools till Standard X reopened across Karnataka on Monday, the instructions for Muslim girls were clearly laid out by many institutions — remove the hijab if you want to attend classes. Reports coming in from many places stated that Muslim students were refused entry into school premises if they did not remove their hijab.

In Mandya, students at the Rotary Educational Society School were forced by teachers to remove their hijab before entering the school premises. Many teachers and staffers were also asked to remove their hijab or burqa before entering the premises. Many parents requested teachers to allow the students to go to their classrooms before removing the hijab.

The story was similar at government-run Sardar High School in Belagavi as teachers and staff asked Muslim girls to remove their burqas and hijab at the school gate.

Over 30 students in the Kodagu district were sent back from school after they refused to remove their hijab. In the Shivamogga district, 10 students from Class 10 and two from Class 9 at the KPS school refused to remove their hijab after which they were prevented from entering the school.

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Schools in the Udupi district, where the protests began last month after pre-university students in some government colleges were barred from entering classrooms with headscarves, recorded normal attendance, according to the officials from the education department. Muslim girls who reached schools in Udupi wearing the hijab removed them before entering the school premises, officials said.

“I have visited a few schools and Muslim students were seen abiding by the rules. They removed their hijab before entering the classes. Police have been deployed near the schools to keep a check on the law and order situation,” Udupi district tahsildar Pradeep Kurudekar said.

In Bengaluru, as high schools reopened on Monday. (PTI)

The situation was largely peaceful on Monday and no untoward incident was reported.

The government pre-university college for women at Udupi and other PU and degree colleges in the region remained shut on Monday since the Karnataka government has declared an extension of the closure of the colleges till February 15 and 16 respectively.

Many schools in northern Karnataka, however, presented a different picture as teachers and staff allowed students to attend classes with their headscarves.

“Schools up to 10th standard have reopened today. A few incidents have been reported in various districts. A meeting will be convened to discuss the lacunae and standard operating procedures. School managements, principals and parents have the responsibility of obeying the high court,” Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai said on the issue of girls being forced to remove their hijabs and burqas before entering school campuses.

A special session of the Karnataka legislature began on Monday but the issue of the ban on hijabs in some colleges in the state did not find mention. But Congress legislators arrived for an address of the joint legislature by the state Governor Thawarchand Gehlot wearing black armbands as a mark of protest against the curbs imposed on Muslim girls from attending classes in the Udupi region.

A full bench of the Karnataka High Court had on February 11 ordered the reopening of educational institutions in the state. The institutes had been closed on February 8 due to protests in college campuses around the state over the issue of Muslim women being asked to remove hijabs to attend classes.

The HC asked the government “to reopen the educational institutions and allow the students to return to the classes at the earliest.” It added, “Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa) scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders.”

“We make it clear that this order is confined to such institutions wherein the College Development Committees have prescribed the student dress code/uniform,” the court said.

Despite the order being applicable to only colleges which have a dress code, this was interpreted as a blanket ban in many districts, government officials said.

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