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'No More Hijab Ban, Women Can Wear What They Want': Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

“I have told (officials) to withdraw the hijab ban," Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah wrote in a post on X.

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Nearly two years after the controversy over hijab in schools and educational institutions broke out in the state, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday, 22 December, said that the hijab ban would be withdrawn by the state government.

Announcing the decision to lift the hijab ban in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Siddaramaiah further added PM Modi's "sab ka saath-sabka vikas is bogus."

"We will take back that decision, there is no Hijab ban now. Women can go out wearing hijab. I have told the officials to take back the order (previous govt order). Dressing and eating food is our choice, why should I object? Wear whatever dress you want, eat whatever you want, why should I care. We should not do politics to get votes, we don't do that."
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, as quoted by ANI

However, on Saturday, 23 December, Siddaramaiah clarified his statement and said that the government was contemplating the decision.

"...I have said this in response to a question. We have not done it yet. We are thinking of withdrawing the decision (of hijab ban). We will discuss it..." Siddaramaiah said, news agency ANI reported.

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‘Just Appeasement Politics’: BJP on Revoking Hijab Ban

Reacting to the hijab ban being lifted, Karnataka BJP President BY Vijayendra said, “Yesterday's statement of Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah regarding the hijab issue is really unfortunate. It is very unfortunate that Siddaramaiah has said that he will allow hijab in educational institutions.”

Meanwhile former CM BS Yediyurappa also attacked Siddaramaiah and said, as per ANI:

"Nobody demanded Siddaramaiah to withdraw this hijab decision. All the communities are together. To attend the classes, the same uniform is required, this has been decided by the court also... Just to please the Muslim community, Siddaramaiah has taken this hasty decision... I condemn that and he must withdraw the decision immediately... This will not affect the Lok Saha elections... In the coming Lok Sabha elections, people will teach them a lesson."

His son, Vijayendra was quoted by ANI as saying that the chief minister could have at least "spared education institutions from the dirty politics."

"No children from the minority or Muslim community have demanded hijab, but the CM claims that he will allow hijab in the schools and education institutions, it clearly shows the intent of the CM. It is just appeasement politics, and it is purely divide and rule practice followed by the Congress party."

Union Minister Giriraj Singh criticised Congress too, stating, "This is not merely lifting of the ban on hijab but the establishment of Sharia law in the state. If Rahul Gandhi, Congress and INDI alliance form govt in the country, then Islamic law will be implemented."

Last year, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had 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.”

Earlier too, CM Siddaramaiah had called the hijab ban a “conspiracy of the BJP to prevent Muslim girls from getting an education."

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The Infamous Hijab Row

The hijab row first erupted in January 2022, when some students of a pre-university college in Karnataka's Udupi were debarred from attending classes while wearing hijab.

  • A month later in February 2022, the Karnataka government had imposed a ban on hijab in classrooms.

  • This led to mass protests at several districts in Karnataka. A clash broke out among the students from two communities in Udupi district college and section 144 was imposed in Shivamogga.

  • On 10 February 2022, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order allowing the opening of colleges but said that no student should insist on wearing “religious clothes” until the time the court decides the matter.

  • Following this, petitions were filed before the Supreme Court against the High Court's directives via the interim order.

  • On 15 March 2022, the Karnataka High Court ruled that wearing of hijab (head scarf) by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practices in Islamic faith and said it is not protected under the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

  • The Karnataka High Court verdict was challenged before the Supreme Court.

  • Cut to 13 October 2022, the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the hijab ban. The top court directed placing appeals against the High Court order before the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Chandrachud for the constitution of a larger bench.

(With inputs from agencies)

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