On February 7, BC Nagesh, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Sakala, Govt of Karnataka debunked the reports that suggested the Government PU College provided separate ‘classrooms’ for Muslim girl students that refused to remove hijab while attending classes.
In a tweet, Quoting ANI’s tweet, Minister Nagesh said, “This is not correct fact. Students protesting outside campus were allowed inside the campus as a courtesy. They were asked to wear uniforms & attend classes. They, however, chose to sit in a separate room & continue the protest. Students must adhere to dress code to attend classes.”
This is not correct fact.— B.C Nagesh (@BCNagesh_bjp) February 7, 2022
Students protesting outside campus were allowed inside campus as a courtesy. They were asked to wear uniform & attend classes.
They however chose to sit in separate room & continue protest.
Students must adhere to dress code to attend classes. https://t.co/lFGGPTjPqS
Speaking to OpIndia, BC Nagesh said, “The reports of providing separate classrooms is fake and misleading. The students were sitting outside. As a courtesy, the college administration provided them with a room to sit and instructed them if they wanted to attend classes, they had to remove the hijab. However, the students continued to protest and refused to attend classes.”
The minister added as per the 1983 Karnataka Education Act, the institutions have the right to decide the dress code. “There are over 100 Muslim students in that class. All of them are attending classes peacefully. Everything was running smoothly until 15 days ago when a few students demanded they should be allowed to attend classrooms in hijab. Some organizations are brainwashing them. I am not sure why they are behaving like this.”
When asked if the Education Ministry will stick to their stand about dress code, BC Nagesh said, “Yes, there is no reason change our stand. The petition is pending in court as well. If the court gives any directions, we will adhere to them, but till then, the Education Ministry is not changing its stand.” The minister further said media should be careful while reporting such cases and added, “There are a lot of rumours going around in North Indian media. The media houses should understand their responsibility and avoid misleading reports.”
‘We are not attending classes’
In an update, ANI reported that the students claimed they would not remove the hijab until the court passed orders.
“College Principal and faculty met us and asked if we want to go to classes by removing hijab, they also took our attendance,” says another student. pic.twitter.com/SvPatoNQP8— ANI (@ANI) February 7, 2022
The news agency quoted one of the protesting students saying, “Won’t remove our hijab until High Court orders. They (administration) won’t allow us in classrooms with hijab, so we’ll sit outside in halls. Classes not going on for us, we are just sitting here.” Another student said, “College Principal and faculty met us and asked if we want to go to classes by removing hijab, they also took our attendance.”
The hijab controversy
The controversy first erupted in January 2022. Several Muslim students were denied entry to classes in a Udupi college because they were wearing hijab. Social media platforms were rife with videos of college authorities refusing to allow burqa-clad students inside their institutions. The college authorities had then argued that the hijab was not a part of the uniform dress code suggested to the students. Management under the new state guidelines had asked girl students to skip wearing hijab while in college. Eight girl students have constantly refused to follow the guideline as they claimed it prevented them from practising their faith.
The Karnataka High Court has agreed to hear a plea arguing that Muslim women wearing hijab should be permitted to attend classes. The petition was filed by a Muslim student, asking the High Court for a direction to allow wearing a hijab in college, stating that it is her “Fundamental Right” granted under Article 14 and 25 of the Indian Constitution and “integral practise of Islam”.
Hindu students have jumped into the controversy as well. They have registered their protest against hijab by donning saffron scarves. In a Government Junior College in Kunadapur, around 100 Hindu students came to the college with saffron scarves around their necks to protest against Muslim girls continuing to wear hijab to the college. On Saturday, in solidarity with their classmates, girl students also hit the streets by wearing saffron shawls to protest against the attempts of Muslim students to vitiate the secular atmosphere in the college by deliberately violating the rules and regulations.