Why ban hijab and allow turban, bindi, ask petitioners

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Petitioner asks court why the government was only on hijab while other religious symbols used by Hindus and Sikhs were allowed in educational institutions, reports Asian Lite News

Why is only hijab not allowed inside classrooms, why not a crucifix, why not turban, why not bindi, submitted senior advocate Prof Ravivarma Kumar on Wednesday to the three-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court constituted to look into the petitions filed on hijab row.

He said, no other religious symbol is considered in the Government Order, why only hijab? Discrimination against Muslim girls is purely based on their religion, he said.

He further said that there are hundreds of religious symbols and why is the government picking on hijab only? Hindus and Sikhs have their own religious symbols, then why only pick these poor Muslim girls? Is it not because of their religion, senior counsel Kumar argued before the bench.

“We (Muslim girls) are punished right away, can they be called teachers for shutting us out of class and made to stand on the road? It is full of prejudice,” he said.

“The goal of education is plurality, not to promote uniforms. The classroom should be a reflection of the diversity of the nation, the point which is recognized by the Supreme Court. Maintaining heterogeneity and unity in diversity and plurality of the society is the motto of education. The validity of the Right to Education Act has come under challenge,” he submitted.

“If people sporting turban can be in the Army, what prevents these girls wearing hijab from attending classes? Students wearing dupatta, bangle, bindi, crucifix under the neck and as pendants, are not being sent out of classes, why only these girls? This is a matter which comes under Article 15 which talks about discrimination on the ground of religion,” he submitted, adding that even police force was used against Muslim students.

“The School Development and Management Committee (SDMC) is not recognized under the Education Act. As per the guidelines of the department, prescription of uniform is illegal. The guideline also makes an emphatic statement that the school/college Principal would be proceeded against if he insists on uniform. But, here, they are against wearing hijab,” he said.

Pre-University College education is the backbone of student’s life. SDMC is formed mainly to utilize the funds, maintaining academic standards and creation of infrastructure. Such a body is entrusted with the police power to discipline students. The College Development Committee has no power to prescribe uniforms. MLA is being made the chairman of CDC. The order says the committee is subordinate to the government. Can MLA be subordinate to the government? Basic quality of democracy is accountability. It is not stated that to whom MLA is accountable? MLA or MP could not be entrusted power under the Act, he explained.

He underlined that MLA belonging to any party will be a representative of a political party and political ideology. “Can we entrust responsibility of students welfare to a party representative or the representative of an ideology? With all humility I submit that the constitution of the committee is a death blow to Indian democracy. Order delegating powers to them should be ignored,” he submitted to the bench.

Muslim women shout slogans during a protest against banning Muslim girls wearing hijab from attending classes at some schools in Karnataka, in Kolkata, on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.(Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)

Intervening the counsel, Justice Krishna S. Dixith said that the bench would not allow such a thing to happen in this case. Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi questioned whether maintaining uniform is not maintaining academic standards?

Kumar submitted in his concluding remarks that Muslim girls are least educated, least number of girls are coming to classes. If they are sent back, it is going to spell doom for them. Senior advocate Yusuf Muchchala who appeared from Mumbai for petitioners submitted that the girls think wearing hijab as their right and it has to be respected by the government.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice Khaji Jaibunnesa Mohiyuddin adjourned the hearing till Thursday.

Tense situation continues in Karnataka

Tense situation continued in and around Karnataka colleges on Thursday as the pre-university students wearing hijab demanded to be let inside classrooms. The hijab-clad students were sent back and many protested the decision of college authorities.

Six persons, who came in support of the hijab wearing students near the Vijay Para-Medical College, were taken into custody in Belagavi. The individuals who gathered in front of the college raised ‘Allah hu Akbar’ slogans and demanded that hijab wearing students must be allowed inside the classrooms. They were taken into custody after they indulged in heated arguments with the police.

State Home Minister Araga Jnanendra met Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai at his residence and discussed the situation in the state. Meanwhile, Muskaan Khan, the student who made international news by raising ‘Allah hu Akbar’ slogans against saffron wearing protesting students, remained absent from PES College in Mandya.

Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar of Ramnagar district issued prohibitory orders and cancelled physical classes in the district. The First Grade PUC college administration has been asked to take online classes till February 19. More than 20 students of Government Women’s PU College in Vijayapura wearing hijab refused to take up exams. The local police clamped prohibitory orders on 200 meters radius of the college and tight security has been arranged.

Prohibitory orders have also been clamped in Hubballi till February 28 to not allow any protests. Meanwhile, a one-day holiday has been announced for Hubballi Arts and Commerce College to avoid any untoward incidents due to the hijab row.

Tension prevailed at Shivamogga DVS College when more than 20 hijab wearing students tried to get inside the college. Police and college authorities sent them back. AAPUC Chemistry Practical exams scheduled to be held on Thursday were postponed in Udupi MGM College.

Students at Sarala Devi College in Bellary questioned how can Hindu students be allowed inside the campus while wearing bindi, bangles and they also be sent out. The students got into an argument with the police for preventing them from entering the premises of the college.

Students wearing hijab were sent back from Belagavi RLS College, Koppal colles, Ballary Veerashaiva Mahila colleges.

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