The closure of universities belonging to the Department of Higher Education and colleges under the Department of Collegiate and Technical Education (DCTE), in the wake of the Hijab row in Karnataka, has been extended till February 16, the state government said on Friday, February 11. However, examinations will be held as scheduled and it has been directed to conduct online classes, state Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, both Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh and Home Minister Araga Jnanendra had indicated that a decision regarding reopening Pre-University and Degree (higher education) Colleges will be taken on February 14. Noting that in view of the Hijab row, DCTE had declared the closure of institutions from February 9 to February 11, Narayan said, now as a precautionary measure it has been extended. This closure is applicable for government, aided, unaided degree colleges, diploma, and engineering colleges, he added.
The government on Thursday, February 10, had decided to resume classes for high school students up to class 10 from February 14, and for Pre-University and Degree Colleges thereafter. The Karnataka High Court, in its interim order pending consideration of all petitions related to the Hijab row, had earlier requested the state government to reopen educational institutions and restrained all the students from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, Hijab and any religious flag within the classroom.
As protests for and against the hijab intensified in different parts of Karnataka and turned violent in some places, the government declared a holiday for all high schools and colleges in the state for three days, from February 9.
Earlier in the day, ahead of the reopening of schools, the state government had issued a series of directions to district administrations, aimed at maintaining peace and ensuring that the High Court order is not violated. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting with some Ministers, Deputy Commissioners (DCs), Superintendent of Police (SPs), Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPIs) and CEOs of Zilla Panchayats of all districts, via video conferencing, to review the ground situation.
"From Monday, high school classes up to class 10 will resume across the state, directions have been issued to see to it that no untoward incident takes place. In sensitive areas, DCs and SPs have to visit campuses and instruct the authorities and teaching staff there to see to it that no untoward incidents take place," Jnanendra told reporters after the meeting. DCs, SPs and DDPIs have been asked to keep constant contact with principals, teachers, management of educational institutions and parents.
"Action should be taken against the guilty, peace meetings should be held and the High Court order should be followed literally. Authorities should not budge to any pressure and even small incidents should be considered seriously," he added. Meanwhile, a police flag march was held in Udupi, ahead of the reopening of schools on Monday, February 14.