Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said that denying entry to colleges to Muslims girls for wearing hijab is a violation of the fundamental right to education under the Constitution. He pointed out that the Karnataka Government’s circular has not made wearing uniform compulsory in government pre-university colleges.
The former Chief Minister defended Muslims girls attending classes wearing hijab, saying, “They have been wearing it from the beginning. It’s a fundamental right.”
On a section of students going to colleges wearing saffron shawls in protest against use of hijab during classes, the Congress leader said, “Were they wearing them earlier? Were they wearing saffron shawls whenever they came to school or college? This is politically motivated. The government should take a firm stand.”
Mr. Siddaramaiah was responding to a controversy related to wearing of hijab by Muslim students in government PU college in Udupi. To counter Muslim students wearing hijab, Hindu students started attending classes wearing saffron shawls in a government college in Kundapur n Udupi district.
Mr. Siddaramaiah said the matter is in court. The High Court of Karnataka would hear on February 8 petitions filed by five Muslim students of Government PU College for Girls, Udupi, seeking a declaration from the court that they have a fundamental right to practice essential religious practices, including wearing of hijab as per Islamic faith, in the college premises.
“The local BJP MLA Raghupathi Bhat has taken a decision that uniform is compulsory. But the government circular says uniform is not compulsory. Who is the MLA to say wearing a uniform is compulsory?” said the Congress leader.
“Education is a fundamental right. If you prevent them from coming to colleges, what does it indicate? Is it not a violation of fundamental rights?” Mr Siddaramaiah said. “Girls from the Muslim community should not be deprived of education. The college principal standing near the gate in Udupi and denying entry to girls was an inhuman act.”
On February 3, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said students should wear uniforms prescribed by school and college managements, and refrain from wearing either hijab and saffron shawls in the college premises.