Hijab row: Karnataka CM tells students to follow dress code, ‘maintain peace’ till HC takes up case
Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said he has asked the police to look into the suspected role of people with ‘vested interests’ in fanning the controversy.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday said students must adhere to the dress code described in Saturday’s state government circular until the High Court takes up the matter of whether the hijab can be worn in educational institutions, The Indian Express reported.
On February 5, the Karnataka government had passed an order that barred students from wearing clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.
After being prevented from attending classes while wearing hijabs, five students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Karnataka’s Kundapur town approached the High Court, which will take up the matter on Tuesday.
Bommai, who is in Delhi, refused to comment further on the matter on Monday.
“Since the matter is in court, I do not want to discuss it,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. The chief minister said exams will be held soon and students must follow the state government circular regarding the dress code. “Students must maintain peace,” Bommai told The Indian Express.
As the standoff about hijabs gained national attention, last week, about 100 boys affiliated with a Hindutva outfit had come to the college wearing saffron shawls to protest against Muslim girls wearing hijabs inside classrooms.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Monday said that wearing hijabs or saffron shawls was not allowed on the college premises, ANI reported. Jnanendra reiterated the state government’s circular on wearing the uniform approved by the college management and said all students should follow it.
Jnanendra said the uniform is a symbol of equality and advised the students to “think beyond religion”. He also said he suspected “vested interests” were playing a role in stoking the controversy and said he has told the police to inquire into the matter.
State Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh, too, alleged that “hidden hands” were behind making the hijab controversy a subject of international news, according to The Times of India.
Nagesh alleged that the “problem” had never been reported “all these years” in any college and that students followed rules regarding the uniform. The minister claimed that some members of a religious organisation had “brainwashed” students in December. According to the minister, only six of the 92 students at the Udupi Pre-University College want to wear the hijab to class.
“Just as rules are to be followed in the military, the same is to be done here too,” Nagesh told The Times of India. “Till then, we will not allow students wearing hijabs to enter campuses.”
Members of the Indian Union Muslim League in the Lok Sabha ET Muhammed Basheer, Abdussamad Samadani and K Navaskani have given an adjournment notice seeking a discussion on the matter, ANI reported.
Meanwhile, on Monday, authorities in the Kundapur college allowed students wearing hijabs to enter the campus. However, they were not allowed to attend classes and were instead given permission to protest inside a hall in the college building.