As a three-judge full bench of the Karnataka High Court will hear the petitions over the ‘hijab’ row on Thursday, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai urged upon everyone including politicians, not to make statements that incite people and to maintain peace. He will be holding a meeting with Ministers of Education and Home departments and officials later in the day aimed at taking certain measures to restore cordial and peaceful atmosphere and discipline at educational institutions.
The government also indicated that educational institutions were not meant for religious practices and wanted the students to follow the uniform dress code. “The issue on uniform dress code at educational institutions has been transferred to the three judge bench of the High Court and the hearing will begin at about 2:30 pm today. Holiday has been declared for schools and colleges to avoid any disturbance between students. It is the duty of every one to see to it that there is no incitement by outsiders and to maintain law and order,” Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said everyone should wait for the court verdict as it is seized of the matter and in a democracy every one should respect it. “I appeal to everyone, whoever had to make their statement or remarks on the issue have already made it. Now, everyone should stop and wait for the court verdict. No one should make any statement that disturbs peace and should restrain themselves,” he added. The full bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice J M Khazi will hear a batch of petitions on the hijab row in the afternoon. The single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit on Wednesday had requested the Chief Justice to refer all the petitions to a larger bench.
Further, noting that he has called a meeting with the Education Minister and officials to which the Home Minister has also been invited, the Chief Minister said: “We will examine in detail the developments that have taken place till now and take certain measures aimed at restoring cordial and peaceful atmosphere and discipline in schools and colleges.” Asked whether the three-day holiday declared to schools and colleges will be extended, he said, “Let’s see, it will be decided at the evening meeting.”
To a question on Congress’ allegation that a minister’s son distributed saffron shawls to students, Bommai said, “there have been allegations and counter allegations from both sides, I don’t want to comment on it. In fact, I’m calling on to stop such things, no one will benefit from it. People holding responsible positions should be sensible and sensitive on the issue involving students.” Meanwhile, the state Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh appealed to students to return to schools and colleges with uniform as exams were nearing, as he indicated that such institutions were not meant for religious practices.
“I request the students to follow the uniform, come to schools and let the schools-colleges function as usual. The SSLC and the PU exams will start in March and April and you need to focus on your studies,” he told reporters. “We don’t want differences emerge among the young minds amongst each other. If students start thinking that this person is a Muslim and that person is a Hindu, will it be possible to attend classes and take lessons?” Nagesh sought to know. According to him, many people have got involved in an emotional issue like hijab. Further, some miscreants took the problem faced by six students (who insisted on wearing hijabs in class-rooms) in the coastal Udupi district statewide, he charged.
To a query that some people have come forward to give cash reward to the Burqah-clad girl who screamed ‘Alla hu Akbar’ in Mandya on her entry to the school when she was heckled by some boys two days ago, Nagesh said it will be investigated. “The Supreme Court lawyers who will fight for Hijab saying that it is their religious belief, where they belong to and whose legal experts they are and which politician’s house they will discuss, will be known in the coming days,” the minister said.
Ignoring the school uniform norm, a few Muslim girls started coming to their government college in Udupi wearing Hijab, a few weeks ago. Protesting against it, some Hindu students started attending classes wearing saffron scarves. The row then spread to other districts of Karnataka as well leading to tension, and violence at some places, prompting the state government to announce a three-day holiday to high schools and pre-university colleges starting from Wednesday.
With PTI Inputs