K’taka Hijab row; Minister calls move political, students unmoved

Bengaluru: The controversy surrounding the denial of permission to six girl students to classrooms for wearing hijab in the Government Girls Pre University College in Udupi of Karnataka has taken a political turn with the state Education Minister B.C. Nagesh dubbing it a “political” move and questioning whether learning institutions have turned into religious centres.

Meanwhile, the girl students have decided to continue their protest until they are allowed to attend classes wearing hijab.

Eight students of the college have been protesting for months in the college campus for being denied entry into the classrooms for wearing hijab along with the uniform. Five of them are studying in II PUC and three students are studying I PUC.

The students are turning down the demands of shunning hijab and are firm on their stand that until the government gives them permission to wear hijab and attend classes, they will sit outside the classrooms and continue to protest. They maintain that it is their religious freedom and constitutional right to wear hijab.

Interacting with IANS on Thursday, the educaion minister stated that the decision had been taken by the School Development and Management Committee in 1985 with regards to uniforms in the campus. “So far, all children are following the rule. Whichever institution it is, if they make a rule, the students who want to study must be obliging. All these days the uniform rule was followed and why did they suddenly change?” he asked.

“Where has religious freedom all these days gone? It is political. What if others start wearing dresses according to their wishes? Do we have to allow them, the students will come in half dresses, do we have to allow them?” Nagesh questioned.

“If good things are implemented with a good thought we will support, if they are doing the opposite how can it be supported? They weren’t aware of their religious freedom as well as constitutional rights all these days? All of this has been started just one year before the elections, We will take a decision at the level of government regarding the issue,” he said.

“Do you want schools to be religious centres? There are more than 100 children belonging to Islam religion studying without any problem. Only a few of them have problems with wearing uniforms. School is not a place to preach the religion,” he maintained.

Masood Manna, State Committee Member of Campus Front of India maintained that they are waiting for the government order. “It is a violation of the right of education and the right to practice religion. The students are not just fighting for themselves, but they are also fighting for coming generations to wear hijab while attending classes,” he said.

“If there is no solution given we will stage a protest. The students are facing mental torture. They are asked to go out by themselves or else they will be pushed out of classes if they attend classes wearing hijabs,” he said.

“Assistant Commissioner, Minority department officials and the Principal of the college have held a meeting on Wednesday in this regard. They have asked the students to come without hijabs. The protest will be staged under the banner of All Students Union in Udupi,” he explained.

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