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‘Trying to sow poison of religious bigotry in harmonious society’: BJP slams Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah over decision to reverse hijab ban in colleges

"We will take back that decision, there is no Hijab ban now. Women can go out wearing hijab. I have told the officials to take back the order (previous govt order)," Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said at a programme in Nanjangud in Mysuru district.

The BJP has slammed the Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah after he announced that his government will reverse the state government’s hijab ban in the state.

In a notable development, CM Siddaramaiah on Friday said his government would overturn the directive prohibiting the wearing of hijabs in classrooms. This directive was enacted by the preceding BJP government and subsequently triggered a legal dispute.

“We will take back that decision, there is no Hijab ban now. Women can go out wearing hijab. I have told the officials to take back the order (previous govt order),” Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said at a programme in Nanjangud in Mysuru district.

“Dressing and eating food is our choice, why should I object? Wear whatever dress you want, eat whatever you want, why should I care? We should not do politics to get votes, we don’t do that,” Siddaramaiah said over the 2022 controversy which eventually found its way into the Karnataka High Court, which upheld the state’s decision to ban religious attires in educational institutes.

Swiftly responding, the BJP, through its social media platform, accused the Chief Minister of attempting to foster religious discord in a previously harmonious society. The party contended that a uniform policy promotes equality among students, accusing the Chief Minister of fostering divisions.

The former BJP government had implemented a ban on wearing hijabs in educational institutions. The Department of Primary and Secondary Education had circulated a directive prohibiting the use of hijabs in schools and PU colleges, sparking a political uproar. This decision led to both supportive and opposing protests throughout the state, beginning with a college in Udupi.

In 2022, petitions challenging the order were submitted to the Karnataka High Court. The court ruled in support of the state’s circular, emphasising that students in educational institutions should adhere to prescribed uniforms. In cases where no specific dress code was prescribed, students were advised to wear attire promoting equality, and integrity, and not disrupting public order. The court determined that wearing the hijab was not deemed an essential religious practice. Subsequently, the Supreme Court issued a divided verdict on the matter later in the year, and the case is currently awaiting further consideration by a larger Bench.

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