‘Won’t Write Exam, Going Home’, Says Burqa-clad Girl Asked to Remove Hijab in Karnataka

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The Hijab row continued to simmer in Karnataka on Tuesday over alleged denial of entry for girl students into schools with their headscarves on in some places, as one such girl announced boycotting her exam in response to the diktat. Scenes of angry parents of such children arguing with police and school authorities and an instance of a student trying to flaunt a saffron scarf as an apparent retaliation were also reported. The Karnataka High Court, in its interim order last week restrained all the students from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab, and any religious flag within the classroom.

High schools were reopened across the state on Monday, even as there were instances of students turning up in Hijab and burqa then, only to be denied entry or asked by officials to remove them, citing the High Court order.

On Tuesday, at a school in the district headquarters town of Shivamogga, a Burqa-wearing girl refused to write her exam when the school authorities asked her to remove her Hijab first.“We have grown up wearing Hijab since our childhood and we cannot give it up. I will not write the exam and I will go home,” the girl told reporters. In a government school in Indavara village in Chikkamagaluru district, Muslim girls were not let inside the school and were asked to go back.

Soon, their parents reached the school and staged a protest. They barged into the campus, raised slogans and demanded that the order should be given to them in writing.

As the protest intensified, another student pulled out a saffron scarf from his school bag. On the direction of his teachers, he put it back inside. Sensing the situation, the principal closed the school for the day. In another institution in Chikkamagaluru town, tension prevailed over denial of entry to the students with hijab. Parents swarmed the school and questioned the school authorities how their children were not allowed inside. Policemen deployed there told the crowd that there was a High Court order not to let anyone wearing Hijab or saffron scarves but the parents were not ready to listen and insisted that their wards be allowed to write the exam.

In SVS School in the district headquarters town of Tumakuru, Muslim parents thronged its premises after their daughters were turned away for wearing hijab. Subsequently, policemen rushed to the spot and made the parents and girls leave the school.

They too cited the High Court order. The full bench of the Karnataka High Court, hearing the matter pertaining to the Hijab ban, had in its interim order restricted the entry of anyone wearing Hijab and saffron scarf till the final order. Students from Udupi and Kundapura who had approached the court had said Hijab was an essential religious practice and questioned the government order of February 5 which prohibited any student from wearing a cloth that can disturb the peace, harmony, and law and order.

The government order then came following tension in the schools and colleges over Hijab versus saffron scarves row.

On January 1, six girl students of a college in Udupi attended a press conference held by Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into the classroom wearing Hijab. This was four days after they requested the principal permission to wear Hijabs in classes which were not allowed. Till then, students used to wear Hijab to the campus and entered the classroom after removing the scarves, the college principal Rudra Gowda had said.

“The institution did not have any rule on Hijab-wearing as such and no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces,” Gowda had said.

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