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Hijab ban in educational institutions to be revoked: Karnataka CM

A woman holds a placard during a protest in support of female Muslim students of Karnataka over 'Hijab issue, in Thane, Sunday, February 13, 2022. Photo: PTI

Karnataka Chief Minister on Friday announced that the Hijab ban will be withdrawn starting December 23rd, citing freedom of choice in clothing and food. “We will take back that decision, there is no Hijab ban now. Women can go out wearing hijab,” he said. 

Assuring a public individual who questioned about the Hijab ban, he said “I have told the officials to take back the order. Dressing and eating food is our choice, why should I object?”, asserting that a direction had already been given to the officials to revoke the ban. 

In an inauguration event organised in Mysuru district, the CM was heard lashing out at the BJP for “indulging in vote bank politics”, saying, “We should not do politics to get votes, we don’t do that,”.

“They say ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ (Cooperation of all, Development of all) but sidelining those wearing caps, burqa and sporting beard. Is this what they mean?”, he questioned. 

The Hijab controversy in Karnataka first surfaced in December 2019, and led to the Karnataka High Court upholding the imposed ban on the Hijab in educational institutions by the then government of BJP in March 2022, saying that the Hijab was not an essential practice of Islam. The petitioners then moved to the Supreme Court, which gave a split verdict on the issue. Currently, the matter is scheduled to be heard by a larger bench.

While a wide audience welcomed the decision, the State BJP has reacted by accusing the CM of “sowing poison of religion in the garden of peace (state)”.

“The policy of uniformity has been implemented in schools and colleges to ensure that children are bound by equality. This has also been upheld by the Supreme Court. However, the Chief Minister is creating a sense of differences in the minds of the school students regarding the issue of uniforms. Siddaramaiah is going to amend the constitution itself for a vote bank to appease PFI goons and minorities. In the coming days, the people themselves will teach a lesson,” Karnataka BJP handle posted on X.

Saying that the Congress party does not engage in political manoeuvres solely for electoral gains, the CM stated, “The Congress government assumed power with the primary objective of safeguarding the rights of the poor, backward classes, Dalits, and minorities. There is no intention of making concessions on this front.”

Earlier last month, the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) in its ‘guidelines for dress code’, restricted all forms of head cover in the exam hall during recruitment exams for various boards and corporations. Though the dress code does not explicitly ban hijab, it is implied by the new guidelines as “all forms of head coverings”. 

Although the authority clarified that “there was no restriction on hijab and the rule was solely to avoid malpractice”, many have expressed outrage saying it was an attempt to create chaos, and would create unnecessary disturbances for the aspirants attempting the exams. Moreover, despite the statement of clarification, no changes were made to the guidelines. 

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