Seeking to end the hijab (head scarf) controversy in education institutions in Karnataka, India, that has begun taking political colour, the state government has ordered banning wearing clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges.
A section of Muslim girls are adamant on wearing headscarves to college, while the state government has cracked the whip making uniforms mandatory for students attending classes in educational institutions.
“Invoking 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act-1983, which says a uniform style of clothes has to be worn compulsorily. The private school administration can choose a uniform of their choice,” the order said.
It said the students have to wear the dress chosen by the College Development Committee or the appellate committee of the administrative board of the pre-university colleges, which come under the pre-university education department.
“In the event of administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn,” the order said.
The order noted that the KEA-1983 had explained that all students should wear a common uniform so that they should belong to a common family and behave in a manner that there is no discrimination.
The order also said the second pre-university or the 12th standard is crucial for the students in their life. A common programme has been chalked out for all schools and colleges in the state for the benefit of students.
“However, the Education Department has noticed that in some education institutions, the students have started behaving according to their religion, which hurts the equality and unity,” it added.
There have been several instances during the last few days, especially in coastal Karnataka, where some Muslim girl students, turning up in hijab, were not being allowed into classes, and Hindu boys responding with saffron shawls, also being barred from classes.
The hijab row has also taken a political colour, as the ruling BJP has stood strongly in support of uniform-related rules being enforced by educational institutions, calling the headscarf, a religious symbol, while the opposition Congress has come out in support of protesting Muslim girls.
The issue that initially began in January at a Government PU College in Udupi where six students who attended classes wearing headscarves in violation of the stipulated dress code were sent out, has spread to a few other colleges in the city and in nearby Kundapur and Byndoor.