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Karnataka Election Results |'Hope Congress Lifts Hijab Ban Now': Hijabi Students

Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party had spoken up against the hijab ban in Karnataka last year.

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Congress’ win in Karnataka has revived hope among Hijab-wearing students of the state, with many now wanting the party to lift the hijab ban in the state. Rahul Gandhi had last year spoken against the hijab ban, saying: “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.”

Congress leader and former CM Siddaramaiah had called the hijab ban a “conspiracy of the BJP to prevent Muslim girls from getting an education”.

The Quint spoke to a few Hijabi students in Karnataka hours after the election results, about how they view the results.

“It’s a sigh of relief for us. If BJP would have won, things would have inevitably gotten worse for us in the coming year,” said Fathima Kulsum, a student in Bangalore. “Now we wait for the Congress to stand by us and lift the hijab ban. It’s time to act on their words,” she added.

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BC Nagesh Loses; 'Hope We Get An Empathetic Education Minister Now', Say Students 

Besides the BJP’s overall loss, an important party leader who also had to concede defeat was B. C. Nagesh, Karnataka’s education minister who brought about the Hijab ban in the state. Nagesh lost in the Tiptur constituency against Congress' K Shadakshari. In contrast, Kaneez Fathima, a Hijab-clad Muslim woman and sitting MLA from Gulbarga North retained her seat, defeating BJP’s Chandrakant B. Patil.

“This is very comforting because it tells us that even though the Hijab ban has been in place for year, the people of the state haven’t voted in favor of that. The propaganda hasn’t been supported by the people,” said Shaheen, a Hijabi student in Shimmoga. “I honestly did not expect this. I was expecting the hijab ban politics to work in BJP’s favor, but I am pleasantly surprised that it didn’t... I hope we get an empathetic education minister now,” she added.

The hijab ban was implemented via a government order by the BJP Karnataka government early 2022, and was upheld in the Karnataka high court later in the year. The order has now been challenged in the Supreme Court, but the bench is yet to announce a verdict.

In the run up to the polls, The Quint had reported how several Hijabi students said their plight had been “turned a blind eye to.”

'Time For Congress To Stand By Their Words Of Love'

Since the hijab ban has come into place, many students have experienced being asked to leave classrooms or examination halls due to their hijab. There has also been a drop among the Muslim women students in Karnataka’s higher education.

“Exams are round the corner again...in July and August several schools and colleges will have exams. I really hope things are better this time around and the new Congress government ensures that things go smoothly,” said Heena Kousar, a student in Bangalore.

While the hijab ban was technically for students, many teachers too were stopped from wearing the hijab across colleges.

In Tiptur, Chandni, a teacher who had to leave a job of hers at a government college, said that she is “hopeful about justice now.”

“The Congress has repeatedly talked about doing politics of love and defeating hate, so now hopefully their presence will be meaningful in actually defeating hate. Time to stand by their words,” Chandni said.

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