Two Karnataka girls who challenged hijab ban return without taking exam | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Two Karnataka girls who challenged hijab ban return without taking exam

BySharan Poovanna, Bengaluru
Apr 23, 2022 05:32 AM IST

Second-year PUC exams started on Friday for the commerce stream. Some students who were part of the agitation are from the science stream and their first exam will be held on Saturday, Rudre Gowda principal of the Udupi government girls’ PU college told HT.

At least two of eight Muslim students who led the resistance against the hijab ban in Karnataka’s colleges decided on Friday not to take their second-year pre-university college (PUC) exams after they were denied entry into classrooms while wearing religious headscarves.

Aaliya Assadi and Resham, the students, were seen leaving an examination centre in Udupi district after being denied entry over their attire.
Aaliya Assadi and Resham, the students, were seen leaving an examination centre in Udupi district after being denied entry over their attire.

Aaliya Assadi and Resham, the students, were seen leaving an examination centre in Udupi district after being denied entry over their attire.

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“Aaliya and Resham collected their hall tickets this morning,” Rudre Gowda, principal of the Udupi government girls’ PU college told HT, adding that he did not know if these students appeared for the examination or not.

The two students could not be reached for comments.

Second-year PUC exams started on Friday for the commerce stream. Some students who were part of the agitation are from the science stream and their first exam will be held on Saturday, Gowda said.

Assadi and Resham, both below 18 years of age, stuck to their stand of not agreeing to be forced to choose between faith and education, an issue that has sparked demonstrations for and against the hijab across the country.

Also Read | Karnataka hijab row: The controversy explained

In December last year, at least eight Muslim students were stopped from entering class wearing the hijab. On January 1, the college development council (CDC) passed an order banning the hijab inside campuses, leading to students sitting outside the college building, but within the campus, in protest.

College authorities maintained that the hijab was never allowed inside classrooms. By February, as the controversy spread across the state, there were counter-protests with some students wearing saffron shawls. On February 3, a video of the government PU college principal shutting the gates on at least 25 hijab-wearing students in Udupi’s Kundapura turned the issue into a wider movement.

The controversy has since manifested itself in ugly ways in Karnataka where right-wing groups have extended demands to ban halal meat, azaan prayers on loudspeakers, restricting Muslims from taking part in temple fairs, and getting the Hindu community to stop doing business with Muslims.

“In the coming days, there is a possibility that the hijab will not just be banned in colleges but also in all public spaces,” Yashpal Suvarna, national treasurer of the OBC (other backward classes) cell of the BJP, said.

Suvarna is also vice-chairman of the college development committee (CDC) of the Udupi government girls’ PU college and was instrumental in effecting the ban in the college much before the high court pronounced its verdict on the matter.

On March 15, a three-judge bench comprising chief justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, justice Krishna S Dixit and justice JM Khazi delivered a 129-page verdict, in which they ruled that the hijab was not an “essential religious practice”.

“It can hardly be argued that hijab being a matter of attire, can be justifiably treated as fundamental to Islamic faith. It is not that if the alleged practice of wearing hijab is not adhered to, those not wearing hijab become the sinners, Islam loses its glory and it ceases to be a religion,” said the bench, dismissing a bunch of petitions that have been filed in the case by students, the state government and several other stakeholders.

Suvarna has been accused of mobilising Hindu students to wear saffron shawls and turbans to counter the hijab, leading to an ugly confrontation between students in front of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) college in Udupi on February 8.

Both right-wing groups as well as the Campus Front of India (CFI), the student wing of the Popular Front of India (PFI), have accused each other of using students to further their own agendas.

The Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government had issued an order on February 5 that a pre-agreed uniform code at the beginning of the academic year will remain in effect until the high court delivered its verdict.

“There have been enough efforts to convince these people since January but they are in no mood to be convinced. It seems like other organisations are convincing them more than us. We are not looking at just those six girls but over 1 lakh students who belong to this [Muslim] community and are taking the exams. Of this, there are around 82,000 girls. We are not looking at the six who are not taking the exam but instead at the 81,900-odd who are,” BC Nagesh, primary and secondary education minister of Karnataka, told Public TV.

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