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Hijab ban vs. education. Is Karnataka (India) denying the right to access education?

On 2nd January 2022, the Government Pre-university #College for Girls in #Udupi, #Karnataka denied entry to 6 female students because they wore headscarves or #hijabs. The college noted that they denied access based on a #dresscode that has been in place since 1985. Protests have broken out all over the state, with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai upholding the college’s right to decide the uniform for students. Members from the #Islamic community claimed this is simply another manner to #discriminate against the minority religious group and deny them education.

Article 25 of the Indian #Constitution allows its citizens to “freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject.” The Preamble also establishes that #India is a secular country.

Despite that, the state government has supported the college’s decision, stating that the colleges have the right to decide their uniform policies. Other colleges in the Udupi district chose to follow suit, sparking widespread protests. #Protests have occurred both in support and against the issues.

The situation took a more violent turn when a group of 100 boys from local right-wing factions arrived at the college in Udupi, clad in #saffron shawls. This act established the dominance of #Hindutva politics. The state government issued a fresh order, asking all government educational institutions to promote uniforms approved by the state government. MPs have compared hijab-clad students with #Taliban. The state education minister claimed that the situation was a conspiracy to destabilise the government. The situation in the state escalated to such an extent that the state government had to shut educational institutions for the 3 days until the #Karnataka High Court delivered a verdict on the issue.

The Central Government, #BJP stated that the dress code must be followed but did not comment on the violation of #fundamentalrights. Other state governments have indicated they might ban hijabs as well. Such actions have shown how the country’s government is more interested in denying citizens’ fundamental rights than promoting #education amongst the #minority groups.

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