Karnataka school goes beyond HC's order, makes teachers remove burqa in public

District officials told TNM that after media reports, they have instructed schools not to put restrictions on teachers.
A teacher wearing burqa entering the school on Monday
A teacher wearing burqa entering the school on Monday
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As high schools in Karnataka reopened on Monday, February 14, zealous school authorities in Mandya forced teachers to remove their hijab and burqa on the road on Monday, refusing to allow them to enter the school campus before doing so. Visuals from Rotary Education Society in the district have surfaced where at least two staff members under heavy scrutiny can be seen being forced to remove their hijab and burqa in public before entering the school. The overreaching staff was also seen stopping girl students from entering the school wearing hijabs and roundly ignoring fervent requests from students and their parents alike to be allowed inside the school compound before removing it. The students were allowed inside the campus only after they removed their hijabs.

Schools were reopened on Monday, February 14 after being shut by the state government in light of the ongoing hijab row. The Karnataka High Court in its interim order passed on Friday, February 11, had barred only students from wearing religious attire like hijab and saffron shawl in classrooms of schools where there is an existing uniform mandate. But this did not stop school authorities in Mandya from forcing embarrassed teachers to forego their religious attire on the pavement, while their movements were being caught on camera.

When TNM reached out to officials, they said that the district authority had not issued any direction restricting teachers or other school staff and asked schools not to put such restrictions.  Javaregowda, Deputy Director of Public Instruction, in Mandya said, “The Deputy Commissioner has said it is only applicable to students and not teachers. The court order is about the children. We have nothing to do in this. In some places they have imposed this dress code on teachers and we have asked them not to as the order is only applicable to children.”

Following the High Court interim order, students in the state were not allowed to enter their school premises. In Shivamogga district, some students refused to remove their hijab and chose to skip their Class 10 preparatory exam.  Reports from Kalaburagi said that students were allowed to attend classes wearing the hijab as it is permitted in the Government Urdu School of Jewargi.

Another video has surfaced of a government school in Belagavi, where teachers are seen refusing entry to girls wearing hijab into the school compound.

The Karnataka High Court is presently hearing the matter.

Meanwhile, pre-university and degree colleges continue to remain shut till February 16 after the state saw multiple instances of minor violence on February 9.  The state government is expected to take a call on reopening pre-university and university colleges on Monday evening. There are restrictions on holding protests over the issue and Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been imposed in Udupi and Mangaluru.

Opposition party Congress is expected to raise the issue in the state Assembly as the budget session of the Assembly began on Monday. Several MLAs and MLCs of the party wore black ribbons as a mark of protest during Governor Thawarchand Gehlot’s joint address to the legislature.

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