Karnataka bans clothes that disturb harmony, public order in education institutions

A common programme has been chalked out for all the schools and colleges in the state for the benefit of students, the order said

Bengaluru: Seeking to end the hijab (head scarf) controversy in education institutions in Karnataka that has begun taking political colour, the State government on Saturday ordered banning wearing clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges.

"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 government 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 government 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 that 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 the schools and colleges in the state for the benefit of students, the order said.

"However, the education department has noticed that in some education institutions, the boys and girls have started behaving according to their religion, which hurts the equality and unity," it added.

The order also cited the rulings of Supreme Court and various High Courts in India in favour of uniform.

Initially the controversy was restricted to Udupi and Chikkamagaluru in the beginning of January as Muslim girls started attending classes wearing Hijab. In protest, the Hindu students started attending classes wearing saffron scarves around their neck. Gradually the issue spread to other parts of the state where Muslim girls demanded permission to attend classes wearing head scarves.

The issue of Hijab had snowballed into a major controversy with political parties striving to derive mileage over it.

While the Congress leaders backed Hijab, the BJP said it will not allow 'Talibanisation' of education institutions.

Congress Legislature Party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who has thrown his weight behind Muslim girls on their right to wear the hijab to educational institutions, accused the BJP and RSS of trying to create communal disharmony throughout the State in the name of Hijab.

He urged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to immediately put a brake to this and arrest those who instigate people.

Further claiming that the main agenda of the Sangh Parivar is to deny education to Muslim girls in the name of Hijab, Siddaramaiah said, PM Narendra Modi speaks about 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padao'. "Is he not aware of this incident?"

"The Constitution has given the right to practice any religion which means one can wear any clothes according to their religion. Prohibiting 'Hijab' wearing students from entering school is a violation of fundamental rights," he added.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP's state president and Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel said the government will not allow hijab at educational institutions and will take strict measures to ensure that things go as per rules of the school, and won't let things be turned into "Taliban like".

"There is a BJP government in this state, there is no room for hijab or any other related incidents. Schools are temples of mother Saraswathi (goddess of education); everyone should abide by rules and regulations there. Bringing religion there is not right, what students need is education, if someone can't follow rules they can choose their path elsewhere," he said.

Kateel also hit out at Siddaramaiah accusing him of bringing in divisive policies like celebrating Tipu jayanti and schemes like 'Shadi Bhagya' among others aimed at creating rift between the communities, when he was CM.

With the issue snowballing into a major controversy and the matter coming up before the High Court, Chief Minister Bommai on Friday held a meeting with Law and Education departments, and the government has asked educational institutions to follow existing uniform related rules, until the Court comes out with an order in this regard, next week.

The Karnataka High Court on February 8 will hear the petitions filed by five girls studying in a Government Pre-university College in Udupi, questioning hijab restriction in college.

JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, hitting out at both the BJP and Congress for the controversy, said instead of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padao', they are trying to make it "Beti Hatao", "they should stop it."

He asked the government to maintain the status quo at institutions where hijab was allowed till now, and not to allow it at places where it has started recently.

"Instead of Hindu-Muslim issue, children being used for such thing is more dangerous," he added.

Calling hijab row, a systematic conspiracy, Kannada and Culture Minister V Sunil Kumar said, hijab or burka can be worn from home to college premises, but on entering classrooms everyone should wear uniform and it is the system.

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