Hijab controversy: Karnataka education department to frame guidelines on uniforms at colleges

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Days after a controversy erupted at a pre-University (PU) college in Karnataka’s Udupi district for banning hijabs inside classrooms, the state Education Department Tuesday said it will constitute a committee to formulate guidelines on uniforms at PU colleges across the state.

A letter issued by Padmini S N, under-secretary of the Education Department (Pre-University Education), said, “Presently, there is no uniform prescribed by the department to follow and it has been left on the colleges. But after the incident in Udupi district where students demanded to be allowed to attend college in clothes of their choice (hijab), the state government has decided to analyse the court orders in this issue and a committee will be formed.”

Seven Muslim students, who were denied entry to the classes by the college authorities for wearing headscarves, have spent nearly a month outside the college. Amid a controversy, the college shut its operations last week after six students and a lecturer tested positive for Covid-19. The college is expected to open Thursday.

The letter said that the students of the college, who are presently protesting, had agreed to follow the uniform rules set by the college but now they have created a new “confusion which is not good for academics”. The letter also asked the colleges to maintain status-quo till the government formulates new guidelines.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Education Minister B C Nagesh said they will bring uniformity among students. He said, “What if tomorrow someone comes to the college in shorts saying it is hot? We cannot allow it. The colleges had set their own rules and it was being followed. There are Christian missionary-run colleges and a few of them do not allow Hindu students to wear bangles or bindis. Nobody has questioned it because it was the decision of the college. Even in Udupi district, students did not have any problem for all these days but suddenly they came up with the issue. We will address it.”

Nagesh also said, “We will look into the court verdicts and what other states have done in such matters and will take steps. We have directed the colleges to follow the present rule till the government decides.”

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