Hijab row spreads to more K’taka colleges, threatens academic environment

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Hijab row spreads to more K’taka colleges, threatens academic environment

Bengaluru:  The controversy surrounding the wearing of ‘hijab’ in a college in Karnataka’s Udupi district has spread to more colleges in the state, causing concerns within the Education department as well as parents and students.

The ‘hijab versus saffron shawl’ issue surfaced at Kundapur Pre-University College in Udupi district and M. Vishweshwaraiah Government Arts and Commerce College in Bhadravati of Shivamogga district on Wednesday.

As 27 Muslim girl students of Kundapur Pre-University College attended classes in hijab, Hindu students came with saffron shawls to the classrooms.

The meeting, which was held with parents of the Muslim students, under the chairmanship of local BJP MLA Haladi Srinivas Shetty could not come to a consensus on the issue.

Shetty has now sought the intervention of the state Education Minister, B.C. Nagesh to handle the issue.

The Minister has clearly told the college authorities that students can come to the classrooms only in uniforms and neither hijab nor saffron shawls will be allowed.

However, Hindu Jagaran Vedike leader Jagadish Kukkehalli said that the Hindu students were ready to shun saffron shawls only if Muslim girls attend classes without hijab. If Muslim girls continue to wear hijab, Hindu students will attend classes in saffron shawls, he added.

A tense situation also prevailed in the premises of M. Vishweshwaraiah Government Arts and Commerce College in Bhadravati of Shivamogga district on Wednesday as the Hindu students came in saffron shawls protesting against Muslim students wearing hijab.

The college authorities have said that the uniform code has been in place since 2010. The students have compulsorily come to classes in uniform only. A separate room has been provided for the Muslim students to change hijab and come to classes in uniform.

The students are demanding that if hijab and burqa are permitted, then saffron shawls must also be allowed in the classrooms. Since the state is entering election year as general elections are scheduled to be held in 2023, the ruling BJP government is dealing cautiously with the issue considering its sensitivity.

The state government has set up a high-level committee to decide on allowing the wearing of hijab by students in classrooms. Until the report is submitted, the government has asked students to attend classes in uniform without wearing hijab.

Meanwhile, political development is taking a communal turn threatening the academic atmosphere.

The Campus Front of India (CFI), the student wing of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), is holding seminars on how the BJP government is trampling upon the constitutional right of Muslim girls by not allowing them to wear the hijab.

Hindu organisations have pitched in and said that if Muslim students come to school in hijab, the Hindu students will also wear saffron shawls while attending classes.

With Sri Ram Sena Founder, Pramod Muthalik urging the state government to expel the students who insist on wearing hijab from colleges triggering a controversy, the issue is all set to take a communal turn.

With two months left for the examination, the issue is threatening to snowball into a major controversy.

The ‘hijab versus saffron shawl’ issue surfaced at Kundapur Pre-University College in Udupi district and M. Vishweshwaraiah Government Arts and Commerce College in Bhadravati of Shivamogga district on Wednesday.

The hijab issue has been discussed at the international level causing a dent to the image of the state known for its progressive administration.

The students of Udupi college have approached the Karnataka High Court on the issue. Udupi BJP MLA has asked the students not to enter the college campus if they are not shunning hijab and if the students are coming to the college in hijab, they are being asked not to attend classes.


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