After Covid, its hijab challenge for Karnataka education dept as exams near

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Muslim Female Students

BENGALURU : Karnataka education department, which successfully conducted board exams during the Covid pandemic in the last two years, is now facing the challenge of hijab issue.

Against the backdrop of verdict by the Special bench of the Karnataka High Court, the state government has decided not to allow students wearing hijab to take up exams. To ensure smooth conduct of exams, tight police security will be made near the examination centres.

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The state government is conducting crucial SSLC (Class 10) examinations from March 28 and will continue till April 11. As many as 8,73,846 students have enrolled for SSLC exams this academic year.

The exams will be conducted in 3,444 centres across the state. CCTV cameras have been installed in all examination centres and prohibitory orders will be clamped in and around them.

Since the last two years, the teaching fraternity has been under tremendous stress. The teachers pledged their lives and worked during Covid pandemic and conducted board exams. Though, all students were passed, the initiative by the department was appreciated. Separate arrangements were made for Covid affected students to give their exams.

The teachers were also used for Covid-related work and many had lost their lives in the process. Now, its the hijab issue which is equally stressful for them, sources in the education department say.

However, the High Court order on hijab is being challenged in the Supreme Court by petitioner students. Opposition Congress is vehemently demanding ruling BJP to allow students to write exams by wearing hijab.

Opposition leader Siddaramaiah has demanded that the Muslim students with dupatta matching with the uniform be allowed inside the examination halls.

Later, he went on to say that if Hindu, Jain women and religious leaders can wear cloth around their faces, why can’t Muslim students?

The statement stirred a controversy and later, Siddaramaiah clarified that he has great respect for religious leaders and he didn’t mean to insult them.

Sources in the police department said that even after government order following the court verdict, the students will attempt to write exams wearing hijab and when they will be stopped, there will be chaos near the examination centers. The situation need to be handled properly to ensure that students attending exams are not disturbed, they say.

B.C. Nagesh, Minister for Education has clarified that students wearing hijab are not allowed to take exams and there is no second thought about it. “We will not allow students with hijab to any exams including board examinations,” he said.

Education department is conducting separate exams for all subjects similar to the pre-Covid pattern. The students will have to obtain minimum passing marks this time. The government has clarified that it won’t pass the students just like that as it was done in the last two years.

Covid regulations for students have been relaxed and wearing of mask is not mandatory in examination halls. However, the examination halls would be sanitised and social distance will be maintained.

Earlier, the Special bench of Karnataka High Court has dismissed the petitions seeking permission to wear hijab in classrooms. It also stated that wearing of hijab is not an essential part of Islam.

After the High Court verdict the hijabi students moved Supreme Court challenging the HC verdict as it affects none saying that hijab is essential and obligatory in Islam. The apex court is yet to give hearing to the plea.

However, in the given situation, the state government and the Police department have to take all precautions to avoid any friction during the annual examinations. Muslims or other than Muslims, Hijabis or without hijab students — are students and belong to the same state. All have right to education. — IANS

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