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    Political slugfest continues on Karnataka hijab controversy

    Political slugfest continues on Karnataka hijab controversy

    Political slugfest continues on Karnataka hijab controversy
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    While the BJP-led government in the southern state supported the decision of the college, opposition leaders lashed out at what they call is blatant discrimination based on religion.

    Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday announced the closure of all schools and colleges in the state for the next three days as protests against wearing the hijab in educational institutions spread to different parts of the state.
    The controversy erupted at the start of the 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, a traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women. The principal of the college had allegedly done so in order to preserve uniformity in students.
    Since then, the controversy has become a political talking point. While the BJP-led government in the southern state supported the decision of the college, opposition leaders lashed out at what they call is blatant discrimination based on religion. The Opposition even staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha over the issue.
    "All students must follow the dress code prescribed by the schools/administration. Law and order must be maintained in the state. We need to see who are these people instigating the students," stated Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi.
    CM Bommai has urged for calm in the matter. "We're awaiting directions from Karnataka HC. I appeal to students to maintain peace and harmony. I've directed school administration to see there're no clashes between students. Appeal to all concerned persons from outside not to make provocative statements," Bommai said.
    Former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah also asked for measures to ensure the safety of the students.
    "I urge CM of Karnataka BS Bommai to immediately announce holiday to all the schools & colleges, where the tussle about Hijab & Kesari is going on, and conduct online classes. This is absolutely necessary for the interest and safety of students," the former CM tweeted.
    "The issue around Hijab & Kesari is highly concerning & leading to tussle among students. Schools & Colleges are turning into a battlefield. Police have become mute spectators without taking action against those causing trouble. Parents are anxious about this. Hijab-Kesari issue could have been resolved harmoniously at the local level. BJP, which politicized the issue, is now clueless on how to control the situation. Students are suffering because of BJP"s ulterior political motives," he added.
    The BJP MLA and Karnataka State education minister CT Ravi took a different approach on the matter.
    "Those who did not shed a tear for the brilliant Tamil Nadu student Lavanya are crying for some FOOLS whose only aim in life is to wear Hijab to college," he said on Twitter referring to the Lavanya case in Tamil Nadu where the suicide due to family abuse versus a conversion angle was being explored.
    State Primary Education minister B Nagesh also said that the protests were being backed by the SDPI-backed Campus Front of India. "Complete details will be known after investigation. Law and order must be maintained in the state," he said.
    BJP state chief Nalin Kumar Kateel made even stronger statements on the issue. "There is no scope for such things (wearing Hijab in classrooms). Our government will take stringent action. People have to follow the rules and regulations of the school. We will not allow Talibanisation (of the education system)," he told reporters in Bengaluru.
    "There is no scope for Hijab or any such thing in the schools. Schools are the temples of ‘Sarasvati’ (Goddess of knowledge). It is the duty of the students to learn and abide by the regulations of the school," he added.
    Meanwhile, state Energy Minister Sunil Kumar hit out at the Congress saying that if the party wins polls, then it might get a law that says all Hindus should wear hijab. "If Congress gets people's mandate, they might even get a law that says all Hindus should wear hijab. Siddaramaiah and Congress should come out of such mentality," he alleged.
    The statements and the stance of the BJP-government have attracted condemnation from across the political spectrum.
    "By letting students' hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India… Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn’t differentiate," said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
    Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. said women have the right to decide their attire. "Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat, a pair of jeans or a hijab, it is a woman's right to decide what she wants to wear. This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women,” she said.
    AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who recently faced an attack in Uttar Pradesh, also said, "I pray that our sisters fighting for their right to wear hijab are successful in their fight. This is a grave violation of the Constitution’s Articles 15, 19 & 21 which is being committed in Karnataka. I condemn this decision of Karnataka’s BJP government."
    The Karnataka High Court is hearing a plea by Muslim students in the matter. The question in the fore is the constitutionality of the removal of the hijab, and whether the garb is an essential part of Islam and thus protected by the Constitution.
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