Hijab Row: 61 citizens write to Karnataka CM over "rising communal politics"
A forum of 61 prominent citizens and intellectuals have written to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai over their concerns regarding rising incidents of hate and communal politics.
The open letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai by 61 individuals questions the loss of harmony, peace and tolerance in Karnataka, a state where these have been its hallmarks for long.
Their letter seeks to clamp down the denial of rights to Muslim girl students in the backdrop of the ban on wearing of hijabs at educational institutes. The letter also challenges the ban and societal boycott of Muslim shopkeepers from trading at annual temple festivals in various parts of Karnataka.
“These incidents indicate a worsening situation in the state,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Dr. Chandra Poojari, S Devendra, Vimala K S, Dr. Vijaya, Prof. S G Siddaramaiah, B Suresh, among others.
The letter read, “We seek to curb the intentional spread of communal hate in the state and insist that Muslim girl students be allowed to take their examinations.”
“We are alarmed by the response from the state. Instead of addressing issues like high inflation rates, unemployment and salary cuts, they have now cut the basic right of education needed to make a living," the letter read.
"The society has still not recovered from the COVID pandemic. In this state, we will not accept disheartening and disturbing news on an everyday basis that disturbs our peace of mind," it continued.
The letter also said Karnataka is no longer ‘Sarva Janangada Shantiya Thota’ - a garden of peace and harmony among all communities - as poet Kuvempu described it. "Extremist forces are using the hijab as a weapon to deprive poor Muslim girl students their rights to obtain an education," it alleged.
It further said, "Schools have not been running offline for the past two years and that students have outgrown their uniforms which were supplied prior to the pandemic. What was the need to make such rules now on the eve of examinations?"
“To add to the controversy, the government has also decided to introduce the Bhagvad Gita as part of the school syllabus. We are of the view that children should be studying the constitution instead."
Amid the ban on Muslim traders at local fairs and annual festivals in various parts of Karnataka, there have been several instances of communal hatered spreading across the state.
The killing of Bajrang Dal activist Harsha by a Muslim gang in Shivamogga, RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat's statements that ‘Saffron flag can replace the Tricolour,’ and demands for ban on madrasas and halal meat during Ugadi came during a time of heightened communal tension in the state owing to the controversy on the hijab ban.