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Karnataka: BJP raps CM on hijab; leaders ask students to don saffron shawls

Stop ‘appeasement’, say BSY, Bommai; HK Patil backs Siddaramaiah.
Last Updated : 23 December 2023, 21:40 IST

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Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's statement about the state government's proposal to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions triggered a fresh row on Saturday, with the BJP launching a scathing attack on the Congress-led government.

Some Opposition leaders called upon Hindu students to sport saffron shawls on campuses in retaliation, even as Congress leaders backed the CM's statement.  

Speaking to reporters, Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi termed Siddaramaiah's statement as "foolish". "The BJP had not imposed ban on wearing hijab. The previous government clearly mentioned that wearing any religious outfit was not allowed only in places with uniform policy," he said.

"Will the government allow if anyone wears saffron shawls to schools tomorrow?" he sought to know, adding that such government decisions would only create unrest in society. 

Vijayapura legislator Basangouda Patil Yatnal minced no words in calling for retaliation. Taking to social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Yatnal said: "I call upon Hindu students to wear saffron shawls in educational institutions if the government permits hijab against the order of the High of Court of Karnataka... CM Siddaramaiah has already stated that uniforms are not compulsory and everyone is free to wear whatever they wish."

Former chief ministers BS Yediyurappa and Basavaraj Bommai urged Siddaramaiah to stop appeasement politics. Such decisions will only create a rift in society, the senior leaders said. If the Congress government does not stop such political gimmicks, people will teach them a lesson in the upcoming Look Sabha polls, Yediyurappa said. 

Bommai added that Siddaramaiah was focusing on non-issues which were of no public concern to divert attention from "burning issues like the Cauvery conflict and corruption". 

Amid backlash from the BJP, Siddaramaiah's colleagues stood in his support. 

Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister HK Patil said the motto of the Congress government was equality of all faiths. "The previous BJP government had created controversy over it. Now, we are trying to rectify it," said the minister. He however did not elaborate on the issue citing that the matter was in the Supreme Court.

The Karnataka Education Act 1983 and rules introduced about uniforms in 2013 and 2018 provide provision only to wear and follow the uniform decided by that particular school and college and even the right to decide about the uniform has been given to School Development and Management Committees (SDMC). 

D Shashi Kumar, general Secretary of the Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka said this decision was not up to the government. "The powers to prescribe uniforms is left to the school managements concerned and SDMCs. If any particular institution allows children to wear any religious outfit, then that is their right," he said. 

Niranjanaradhya V P, Development Educationist, added, "Education is a fundamental right of every student in accordance with international and national legal instruments. The state is obliged to create a conducive environment for realisation of it. In this context, the statement of chief minister to remove all barriers is a welcoming move."

The hijab controversy flared up in 2022 when a group of students at a PU College in Udupi started wearing hijabs to classrooms which was opposed by their Hindu counterparts. Eventually, the state government issued an order banning religious attire on the premises of educational institutions in keeping with the Karnataka Education Act.

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Published 23 December 2023, 21:40 IST

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