The Karnataka waqf board has proposed to set up schools and colleges exclusively for girls in 10 districts and clarified that the proposal, yet to be approved by the state government, has nothing to do with the hijab controversy.
Moulana Shafi Saadi, chairman of the board, said Wednesday that these institutions—to be set up in Mangalore, Udupi, Kodagu, Shivamogga, Chitradurga, Bagalkote, Vijayapura, Kalburgi, Chikkodi, and Nippani—would allow girls to wear the hijab, though admission would be open to students from all communities.
“The plan for setting up institutions for girls has been going on for eight months now. We are following the principle of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao set by the prime minister. It is not something that sprouted after the hijab row. I do not know why certain people are linking this with the hijab issue. In these new institutions, girls from all religions will be allowed to seek education,” Saadi told indianexpress.com, confirming that girls would be allowed to wear the hijab in these institutions.
These schools and colleges, offering education from the LKG level to the professional degree level, would be built on waqf land at a cost of Rs 25 crore, entirely funded by the board.
The board is planning to build these schools and colleges on the sidelines of its institutions like Al Ameen College, Gousiya Engineering College and the Khaja Bandanawaz Institute of Medical Science.
“These institutions will be built on land already allocated to existing waqf board institutions in different districts of the state. Although they will be different campuses, the new institutions will be managed by the respective waqf board institutions. The waqf board will be funding the construction of buildings, while it is up to the institutions to create a framework for the kind of education they are planning to offer after seeking approval from the government,” Saadi said.
However, the move has been criticised by right-wing outfits. Sanjay Badaskar, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said, “Aren’t there enough government schools and minority schools in the state? What is the need to establish more schools that will be run by Muslims? This is nothing but another form of madrasa and a form of polarisation. Allowing hijabs in such institutions is to make their narrative stronger. Although these institutions claim to allow girls from other religions as well, Hindu girls and staff will ultimately face discrimination. We will oppose this tooth and nail.”
The proposal comes months after the hijab controversy, which broke out when Muslim girls wearing headscarves were not allowed to enter classrooms in government pre-university colleges in Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts.
The state government has since allowed educational institutes to ban the hijab and other religious attire in classrooms as part of enforcing uniforms and dress codes.