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All you need to know about Karnataka hijab row

All you need to know about Karnataka hijab row

All you need to know about Karnataka hijab row
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By CNBCTV18.com Feb 7, 2022 6:58:09 PM IST (Published)

Campus clashes flared across Karnataka with the police arresting two people and two colleges declaring a holiday even as the Karnataka HC is set to take up the hijab petition filed by the students tomorrow.

The Karnataka High Court will on February 8 hear a plea filed by five girls from an Udupi college over not being allowed to enter the classroom wearing the hijab. Clashes have erupted across campuses in the state in the last few days and at least two colleges declared a holiday on February 7 to avoid communal tension, while another college made students wearing hijab sit in a separate classroom, said reports.

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The police have arrested two people from Gangolli -- Rajab, 41, and Haji Abdul Majeed, 32 -- who were spotted carrying “lethal weapons” near the Government PU College in Kundapur in Udupi district, The Times of India reported.

Majeed has seven cases pending against him at the Gangolli Police Station, while Rajab has one. The police has filed a case against them under various IPC sections. They are also on the lookout for Khalil, Rizwan and Ifthikar, who managed to flee from the spot.

What is the hijab controversy all about?

The controversy over the hijab -- a headscarf worn by Muslim women -- in Karnataka erupted in late December last year, when six Muslim girls at state-run Udupi Women's Pre-University college were allegedly not allowed to enter the classroom wearing the hijab. Rudra Gowda, the principal of the college, who allegedly did not allow them to wear hijab in classrooms, said he had done so to ensure uniformity in classrooms.

One of the students, Almas A.H. told BBC Hindi that in the first year of college, the students were told that their parents had signed a form that prevented them from wearing a hijab. Students were away from colleges for months during the pandemic. When they returned in end-December, they were not allowed to enter the classroom, she said.

The six students also complained that they were not being allowed to talk in Urdu, Arabic and Beary languages. In protest, the girls stood outside the classroom for three days. According to the students, even though their parents approached the principal, Gowda refused to discuss the issue.

Hijabs versus saffron shawls

On January 4, college students in Koppa district of Karnataka wore saffron scarves to protest against allowing hijab-clad Muslim women inside classrooms, The Hindu reported. Similar incidents were reported in state-run colleges in Balagadi village and Mangalore during the month.

Meanwhile, two colleges Shantheshwara PU and GRB College in Vijayapura district of Karnataka declared a holiday on February 7 to avoid communal conflict, while hijab-wearing students at the Government Junior PU college in Kundapur in Udipi district were allowed into the campus but made to sit in separate classrooms without any lessons.

Government intervenes

Although a meeting was held on January 19 with students, parents, government officials and the management of the Udupi PU college attending, no conclusion was reached. The next day, five college students started protesting outside the school by holding placards against the decision not to allow them to attend classes wearing head scarves. Following protests, the state government set up an expert committee to look into the issue.

Court petition

A Muslim girl from Udupi filed a writ petition on January 31 in the Karnataka High Court, seeking a declaration that wearing a hijab is a fundamental right. The petition said the Constitution of India granted the freedom to profess, practise and propagate any religion.

Since then, multiple incidents of hijab-saffron shawl row have been reported from various parts of the state. Incidents of a Hindu group forcing boys to wear saffron shawls in pre-university college classrooms in Udupi were also reported.

DMK MP Senthil Kumar raised the issue in Parliament and asked the Centre to take action in the matter.

On February 5, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting with top government officials and Primary and Secondary Education Minister B.C. Nagesh on the issue and asked all educational institutions to follow the existing uniform rules till the high court rules. The Karnataka High Court will hear the petition on February 8.

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