Move to bar students with hijab from colleges aimed at denying them right to education: Siddaramaiah

The move to prevent Muslim students wearing head scarves or hijabs from attending pre-university colleges in the Udupi region of Karnataka is an effort to rob the girls of their fundamental right to education, said former CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah.

“This is an effort to prevent the Muslim girl students from being educated. The head scarf is part of the religion. This is very bad. Uniforms are not compulsory. The principals are doing this and this is inhuman,” the Congress leader said in the first remarks on the issue from the opposition in Karnataka.

“The government has not said anywhere that there should be uniforms for pre-university students. Now there is a problem being created at a college in Kundapur. A principal in a college has locked the gates and prevented the girl students from entering. It is a government college. It is a violation of the fundamental rights of the students,” the former chief minister said.

“The BJP is making an issue of it by demanding the right to wear saffron shawls. They are doing it intentionally. Why have they not done it before? This is a fundamental right under the constitution to practice your religion. It has been happening for many years,” Siddaramaiah said.

The former CM said that the matter is in the court at present and the decision should be awaited by all.

“The MLA in Udupi has been saying that they should not come with head scarves and the principal has immediately acted on it. The principals are being paid with taxpayers money and they are preventing students from entering the campus,” he said.

The former CM said the demand for allowing Hindu boys to attend college with saffron shawls if Muslim girls are allowed with Hijabs is a move to politicize the issue. “What is the intention of wearing saffron shawls, did they wear it earlier, is it part of the custom?” the former CM said.

Siddaramaiah said that students were being allowed to wear Hijabs in classrooms earlier in Udupi. “It is not true that they used to remove it earlier,” he said.

The deputy leader of the Congress in the legislative assembly UT Khader said Muslim girl students should be allowed to attend classes wearing the hijab if they wanted to do so and that colleges should decide on allowing saffron shawls for Hindu students. “The education of the students must not suffer due to this issue being raised now,” Khader said.

Education minister BC Nagesh on Friday said that government colleges will strictly follow the uniform circular which was sent recently by the Education department. “We have sent circulars to the PU colleges that students should wear uniforms. If not , they will not admit them inside the colleges and all our college principals are following the rule. The matter is also in the court and we will wait for the court directions too,” Nagesh said. Nagesh claimed the hijab controversy has come to the fore only in the last 20 days due to protests by students.

On Thursday, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said students should wear uniforms prescribed by school and college managements, and refrain from wearing either the hijab or saffron shawls in the college campus. Reacting on the hijab row, the minister for Kannada and Culture V Sunil Kumar alleged that the Muslim girl students are converting Udupi and Karnataka into a Taliban territory.

“We will not allow them to make the coastal region a Taliban area. Hidden hands are behind this incident,” he alleged.



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