Hijab row: NHRC issues notice to state, seeks response in a month | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Hijab row: NHRC issues notice to state, seeks response in a month

By, Bengaluru
Jan 28, 2022 12:31 AM IST

On Wednesday, the Karnataka government said an expert committee has been set up to resolve the controversy.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought response of the Karnataka government in connection with the controversy over six students not being allowed to attend classes, at a government pre-university college in Udupi district, since the last one month for wearing a hijab.

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The Muslim girls have alleged that the institution has barred them from entering classrooms while wearing a hijab sincelast week of December 2021.The first-year students have also alleged that the institution is not allowing them to even meet their classmates on campus.

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On Wednesday, NHRC issued a notice to the state government and demanded a report within a month. The commission said the incident in Udupi “involves a grave violation of the human rights” of the students.

The notice has been issued to the Udupi district magistrate and the principal secretary of the department of higher education. “Facts of the case are disturbing. The allegations made in the complaint are serious in nature involving ‘Right to Education’. The case, therefore, involves a grave violation of human rights of the victim students,” the notice read.

The notice was issued based on a complaint lodged by Mohammad Riyazuddin, a resident of Kalaburagi district.

Karnataka education minister BC Nagesh refuted the claims made in the complaint, saying the government has not violated any human rights. “We have not taken away any rights of the students. What we have told the students is to attend classes with the uniform code that has been followed so far. The School Development Management Committee has given the uniform code many years ago. 99% of the students in the college are following this rule and only six students don’t want to follow a rule, which they had followed for more than one and a half years,” the minister told reporterson Thursday.

Local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Raghupathi Bhat, on Wednesday, reiterated that the students will not be allowed to enter classes with a hijab. Bhat, who is also the chairman of the School Development Management Committee of the Pre-University College, added that students will be allowed to attend classes only in online mode if they insist on wearing a hijab. “We will request the six students and their parents to desist from wearing hijab to the classrooms. If they do not agree, they can attend the classes online and take their examinations,” Bhat said.

Discipline is mandatory in an educational institute, he said. “Parents must understand this and ask their children to follow the uniform code. We are not going to budge from our stand under any circumstance.”

On Wednesday, the Karnataka government said an expert committee has been set up to resolve the controversy. The government said that all students at the college should adhere to the uniform rule till the committee decides on the issue.

“If we yield to their demands here, this will begin in every other college. And then, in retaliation to this, saffron shawls and turbans will make it to the campus,” Bhat said, referring recent protest against hijab by some students backed by right-wing organisations, who wore saffron shawls to the college.

“We have requested the community leaders to ensure that harmony is not disrupted in the district. They have assured me to hold a dialogue with the parents of the six students and revert in two days. The college principal will call the parents and request them to retract their stand on hijab,” Bhat added.

On Thursday, the protesting students, however, reiterated that wearing a hijab is a right provided by the Constitution of India. “We are not committing any crime. We are not doing any indiscipline. We are just putting on a scarf, which is in the same colour as our college shawl. We are not covering our faces,” said one of the protesting students, requesting anonymity.

Bhat said if the parents and students did not agree to remove the hijab, they can take admission in another private college. “Earlier, the agitating students have attended the classes without hijab for a good one and a half years. It’s just a matter of another one month. The classes will get over and examinations will be held. If they are stern on their hijab decision, they may consider attending the classes online. We will allow them to write the examination. Next year they can take admission in any other college of their choice but under no circumstance, we will allow them inside the classroom with hijab,” he said.

“Why should we go to a different college? If a government college where the constitutional values should be upheld is doing this, you can imagine what will happen in a private college. Unity in diversity is taught in schools but it is not practised,” said one of the protesting students, requesting anonymity.

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    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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