Karnataka Waqf board to start colleges, schools that permit hijab

The Karnataka Waqf board will soon start schools and colleges where students will be allowed to wear the hijab, unlike several educational institutions of the Karnataka government.

According to Waqf board chairman Shafi Sadi, the schools and colleges will be self-financing and will be established in Mangaluru, Shivmogga, Hassan, Kodagu, Bijapur and Hubballi.

“A total of 25 million have been earmarked for educational institutions. There would be no autonomous rules for these institutes and they would follow the rules of the board and universities,” Sadi said.

Government sources said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai may make an announcement in this regard soon.

When asked if the intention to establish educational institutions is an ongoing hijab row, the president of the Waqf denied it. “There is no connection with the hijab issue. Everyone is welcome to receive the ticket,” he said.

“This was announced 5-6 months before. We have 25 million rupees in the Waqf table for this. This is especially for women’s colleges in different districts of the state,” the Waqf chairman added.

Hijab row

In December 2021, Government PU College in Udupi refused to allow six hijab-clad schoolgirls to enter their classrooms. The problem soon spread across the state when several government schools and institutes in the state started banning hijab-wearing students.

Instead of helping the students, the state government justified the ban and said that an appropriate dress code should be followed.

Protests by Muslim students led to retaliation by Hindu students wearing saffron turbans and scarves. Media reporters reported that many Muslim students were being harassed.

The situation soon escalated and the state government had to temporarily close schools for a week.

Several petitions were filed in the High Court against the Karnataka government’s ban decision. However, on March 16, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi concluded that the hijab was not an essential religious practice of Islam which supported the Karnataka government’s ban.

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