Karnataka Hijab Row; points you need to know

The word ‘hijab’ is now at the center of a raging controversy in the state of Karnataka. When a group of Muslim schoolgirls at Udupi Women’s Pre-University college attended classes wearing hijab, it became a topic of talk in Karnataka from January this year. Following this, similar incidents have been taken place in some parts of Karnataka and it triggered a fire to blow out in Karnataka. When Muslim girls came to the classroom wearing hijab, Hindu girls in the classrooms started wearing saffron shawls as a sign of their protest towards the hijab. Soon after the controversy, clashes occured and community violence erupted in the campuses across the state.

Although Hijab, burqa, and niqab are just three kinds of veils used by Muslim girls around the world, each of them has been considered and treated according to the law of each country. When girl students wearing the hijab entered the classrooms, some of the schools claimed that it broke their uniform code. Also, some students protested in the college for wearing the hijab and in Shimoga, boys hoisted the saffron flag in the courtyard of the college where the video of it was doing rounds over the internet.

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The case is now in the court and it is upto the court, where the decision on the ongoing row lies. Here is a short about the controversy and some points you need to note about the ongoing row in the country:

  1. The first case of the row arose on January 1, 2022, when some Muslim girls entered the college wearing Hijab. The principal of the college denied entry to classrooms citing the same.
  2. Followed by this, some Hindu students of Karnataka’s Koppa district wore saffron scarves protesting allegedly against allowing Muslim women to wear hijab inside the classroom. They demanded to allow saffron shawls as the Muslim girls got permission to wear. Some students were outraged by this decision and have voiced their anger against what they have termed as a ‘discriminatory rule.’
  3. Meetings were held between students, teachers, and college officials in PU College in Karnataka’s Udupi to make a final decision on the issue. On January 26, the Karnataka government set up an expert committee to resolve the issue involving hijabs inside classrooms. It was announced that all girls should adhere to uniform rules until the committee’s recommendations came.
  4. When there was no result noted in the meeting, The very next day, the five girls began protesting outside the school. They also held placards as a sign of protest against the decision not to allow them to attend classes while wearing hijabs.
  5. In a writ petition by a Muslim student of the Udupi college, it was mentioned in the declaration that wearing a hijab is a fundamental right. The plea stated that the Indian constitution guarantees the Freedom of Conscience and the right to profess, practise and propagate religion.
  6. Post the meeting held by Karnataka CM Nasavaraj Bommai’s with Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh and top government officials, the Karnataka government asked educational institutions to follow the existing rules related with uniforms.
  7. The Karnataka High Court bench said students should not wear religious dress to colleges. The matter will now be heard on February 14. In the interim, the Karnataka government has decided to resume classes in a phased manner for students of classes 1-10 from next week.
  8. In the latest report, the holiday announced to universities belonging to the Department of Higher Education and colleges under the Department of Collegiate and Technical Education, in the wake of the hijab row, has been extended till February 16, the Karnataka government said. However, examinations will be held as scheduled and it has been directed to conduct online classes, state Higher Education Minister C N Ashwath Narayan said in a statement.