Karnataka Chief Minister says he has asked for withdrawal of order banning hijab in classrooms

Siddaramaiah says that matters pertaining to food habits and dress are a matter of personal choice and should not be politicised

December 22, 2023 09:25 pm | Updated 09:52 pm IST - MYSURU

The previous BJP government had banned wearing hijab in educational institutions. 

The previous BJP government had banned wearing hijab in educational institutions.  | Photo Credit: File photo

In a significant move, Karnataka government is set to revoke the contentious order banning hijab in classrooms, which was passed by the previous BJP government and later led to a legal battle.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who alluded to the hijab issue at a programme in Nanjangud in Mysuru district on Friday, announced that he had asked for withdrawal of the hijab order. ‘’We will withdraw the hijab circular and there is no restriction and people can wear the dress of their choice,” he said.

The previous BJP government had banned wearing hijab in educational institutions. The Department of Primary and Secondary Education had issued a circular banning hijab in schools and PU colleges which resulted in a political furore. There were protests for and against the move across the State by students’ groups as well, starting with a college in Udupi.

Petitions were filed against the order in the Karnataka High Court in 2022, which ruled in favour of the State’s circular and said that students in educational institutions should only wear prescribed uniforms, and where no code was prescribed, they should wear “such attire that would accord with equality and integrity and would not disrupt public order.” They held that the wearing of hijab was not an essential religious practice. Later in the year, the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the issue, and the case is now pending before a larger Bench.

Matter of personal choice

Elaborating on the issue at the event in Nanjangud, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that matters pertaining to food habits and dress are personal. ‘’I wear dhoti and someone else may wear pants and shirt. What is wrong in it?’’ questioned the Chief Minister and said that one should not politicise such issues for political gains.

Though the Congress had hinted that it would revoke the ban if voted to power in the run-up to the elections, it was the first time that the Chief Minister has said in public that the ban was being revoked.

Mr. Siddaramaiah was speaking in Nanjangud after inaugurating three police stations at Kavalande, Antharsante, and Jayapura. Later, on his social media handle, he also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dictum of “Sabka saath, sabka vikas” was hollow.

BJP responds

In a quick response, the BJP in its social media handle said that the Chief Minister was “trying to sow the poison of religious bigotry in a harmonious society.” They argued that uniform ensures equality among students. The Chief Minister is “creating divisions,” the party alleged.

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