Hijab politics in Karnataka, which threatened to divide the student community on communal lines and law and order situation in the state during the BJP rule last year has come to the forefront yet again. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's announcement that he will lift the ban on hijab for school and college students has triggered a huge debate over the issue. However, the CM later claimed that the government was only contemplating lifting the hijab ban and no final decision has been made.
The opposition BJP has indicated strife in the coming days. “My question to the Chief Minister is why are you playing with the children's future. At least keep your dirty politics away from students. Why are you sowing the seed of religion amongst the students. The CM now says that he didn't say anything like that. Hopefully he won't go ahead with the announcement,” said BJP State president BY Vijayendra.
Former CM of Karnataka and BJP leader BS Yediyurappa said that though the BJP wouldn't organise protests against lifting the hijab ban, people will teach the Congress a lesson in the upcoming Parliamentary elections. BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and former national general secretary CT Ravi stated that Hindu students will now demand that they be allowed to wear saffron shawls and tilak.
RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat asked if the CM had the power to lift the ban. "If you want to say 'Allah hu Akbar', say it in your house or at the mosque. If you want to be in this country, you should chant Ram Naam (he was referring to Muslim student Muskan who had said Allahu Akbar after she was confronted by a Hindu mob).”
However, academic experts state that a large number of Muslim girls, who were denied permission to go to schools and colleges, will now be able to step out of their houses and continue their studies. Niranjan Aradhya, VP, Development Educationist and Social Activist, explained to IANS, "It is a welcome decision by CM Siddaramaiah, lifting the ban on hijab. Any decision which takes away the fundamental right of students in schools and colleges will have its effect on the education of the children. Due to the hijab ban many female students had lost the right to education. Many did not join the first PUC (Class 11) and discontinued the second PUC (class 12). There are studies regarding this. The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had conducted studies. The girls have stated that following the hijab ban their parents had not shown interest to send them to the schools," he explained.
Political analysts said that CM Siddaramaiah's announcement is a calculated political move to consolidate the votes of Muslims. It is also to counter the rising Hindutva wave in the backdrop of the opening of Sri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. However, what is curious is that the removal of the ban is possible with just a mere cancellation of the previous government order. Though this was one of its main electoral promises, the Congress has not done it in the past few months that it has been in power, indicating that there was pressure from within the party to not touch the ban.
(With IANS inputs)