The Karnataka Education Department on Saturday, 5 February, asked all government and private colleges in the state to follow the uniform dress code.
"Invoking 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act-1983, which says a uniform style of clothes has to be worn compulsorily. The private school administration can choose a uniform of their choice," the government order said.
"Colleges that are under the dept of Pre-University, state government to follow the dress which was decided by the college's development board (CDC). If there is no such dress code, students can wear the dress which will not affect equality, integrity and law and order," the order added, according to news agency ANI.
Meanwhile, as per a transfer order dated 5 February (Saturday), Pre University Board Director R Snehal was transferred without any posting with immediate effect. She has been replaced by Bidar District Administrator Ramachandran R, as the next director.
Both orders come amid hijab row which started on 28 December after Pre-University College in Udupi prohibited six girls from attending classes after they came to the institute wearing hijabs.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Congress MLA Kaneez Fatima, as well as her supporters held protests around DC's office, Kalaburagi, amidst the controversy, asserting that the "girls are being oppressed".
"We're ready for a change in the colour of the hijab in order to match it with the uniform but we cannot leave it. I wear hijab to the Assembly as well, they can stop me if they can. A memorandum will go to the CM and we'll protest in Udupi later," news agency ANI quoted the MLA as saying.
She went on to question what has propelled the sudden restrictions. "Why are they suddenly stopping us? Burkha is nothing new," Fatima stated on Saturday.
‘Robbing the Future of India’s Daughters’: Rahul Gandhi
Commenting on the ongoing hijab row in educational institutes across Karnataka, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi equated letting hijabs get in the way of education with "robbing the future" of India's daughters.
"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," Gandhi tweeted.
Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah also tweeted on the issue, stating that prohibiting the entry of those wearing the hijab was a "violation of fundamental rights."
These tweets come after a few educational institutions across Karnataka prohibited students wearing the hijab from entering college premises, citing administrative rules against the wearing of religious symbols on campus.
BJP Karnataka's official Twitter handle reacted to Gandhi's tweet and accused him of "communalising" education.
Meanwhile, the state BJP president and Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, said that the party will oppose "Talibanisation" in the state.
‘Hijab Row’ Spreads To Other K’Taka Institutes, Saffron Scarves Banned
Shortly after the first instance was reported, another educational institute called Bhandarkar's Arts and Science Degree College in Kundapura stopped hijab-wearing students at its gate. Around 40 students protested at the gate, and were joined by Muslim boys from the college on Friday, 4 February.
Amid the controversy, several Hindu students protested by wearing saffron scarves to college, demanding that they be permitted to do so if students wearing hijabs were allowed to attend classes. On Saturday, female students of a private college in Kundapura joined the protests by wearing saffron scarfs to protest Hijab wearing.
In Hassan, students of a government college also came forward to protest.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh informed the college authorities that students could not be permitted to enter classrooms in any attire except the uniform, be it hijabs or saffron scarves.
The 'saffron scarf' protests were seen in yet another Udupi college which disallowed the hijab on 4 February, where slogans of 'Jai Shree Ram' were raised.
In an attempt to prevent the row into snowballing into a larger controversy, the Karnataka government asked educational institutions to follow existing rules on uniforms until the High Court issues an order in the matter.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday, 4 February held a meeting with Nagesh and top government officials, regarding the government's stand on the issue, reported PTI.
Speaking to reporters, Nagesh said that as per rules framed under the Karnataka Education Act in 2013 and 2018, School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMC) of educational institutions reserved the right to prescribe uniforms for students.
The Minister responded to Siddaramaiah, asking him the study the Karnataka Education Act and its rules, stating that uniform-related rules had been framed during his stint as Chief Minister of the state, noted PTI.
(With inputs from PTI)