Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has tweeted on the controversy over Muslim students’ demand for wearing the hijab in classrooms in a Karnataka college.
On the occasion of Saraswati Puja, Mr Gandhi alluding to the decision by the college authorities not to allow wearing the hijab in classroom, tweeted “we are robbing the future of the daughters of India”.
“By letting students’ hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India. Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn’t differentiate,” the Congress leader said.
The Karnataka BJP, reacting to Mr Gandhi’s tweet, tore into the Congress leader for “communalising education”.
“By communalising education, CONgress co-owner Rahul Gandhi has once again proved that he is dangerous to the future of India. If hijab is very much essential to get educated, why doesn’t Rahul Gandhi make it mandatory in states ruled by Congress?” the Karnataka BJP tweeted.
Some 40 women students wearing the hijab protested at the gate of Bhandarkar’s Arts and Science Degree College in Kundapur, a coastal town in Karnataka’s Udupi. The staff had refused to let them in unless they took off their headscarves. They missed their classes for the second day on Friday.
The college has an instruction manual that says: “Girl students are permitted to wear the scarf inside the campus, however the colour of the scarf should match with the dupatta, and no student is allowed to wear any other cloth inside the campus including the college canteen”.
The principal, Narayan Shetty, said he wanted to preserve harmony on campus. “I am a government employee. I will have to follow all the instructions of the government. I was told that some students will enter the college wearing saffron shawls, and if harmony is disturbed in the name of religion, the principal will be held responsible,” he said.
The Karnataka government allows state-run colleges to frame their own guidelines on the matter. Some government colleges allow Muslim women students to wear the hijab or any headscarf on the campus. But their ambiguity is with whether they can wear it inside the classroom. The students have pointed out that there is no guidelines on this and they can wear it inside the classroom.
On Thursday, another college in Kundapur saw identical scenes when a group of hijab-wearing girls stood outside the gates for six hours. The Junior PU Government College had allowed hijabs in class until two days ago, the girls complained.
The hijab protests began weeks ago at the Government Girls PU College in Udupi district when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf.