News Karnataka
Friday, December 02 2022
Interview

Making uniform compulsory being portrayed as oppression of Muslims: Edu Min

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Bengaluru: The row on hijab that initially began as a protest by six students has rapidly snowballed into a major crisis in Karnataka, threatening the law and order situation. The international community too has raised concerns on the issue which has been discussed in the Parliament as well.

B.C. Nagesh, who was recently named Karnataka’s minister for education, is in the thick of things surrounding the hijab row. He has been strongly propagating the idea of uniform minus hijab. In an interaction with IANS, the minister explained his perspectives on the raging controversy.

IANS: How do you see the developments unfolding in the state over the hijab issue.

BC Nagesh: It is not a good development that young minds are getting polluted. Common man is observing how society is behaving. They are also seeing how the young ones, who have been normal students these days have changed suddenly. What has filled up the minds of these boys and girls? It is okay that they have approached the court. But, they forced the court to issue an interim order on that very day and reject the government circular. And even as three-judge bench of Karnataka High Court gave the interim order, the way that order was being challenged in the Supreme Court and how the transfer of case was sought, the attitude of their requirements are to be fulfilled at any cost and the way how court is being pressurized, I am taken aback. I am sad that schools were closed.

Q: Do you think the hijab row which has been discussed at international level has brought disrepute to the state?

A: When it becomes an international issue, it is the duty of each one to bring clarity about the issue. We have to put out the truth. Many people have attempted to bring out the truth. Falsehoods can prevail for a temporary period. Ultimately, the truth will come out. We have been making an honest attempt to address hijab row. The true colours of the elements involved in creating this controversy. There may be multiple layers of lies, but truth will emerge. It is not possible to uphold what is false.

Q: The developments surrounding the hijab row have deeply hurt student mindset. How are you going to address the issue?

A: It will take many days to bring mindsets back on the right track. The students who remained friends till yesterday have developed the psyche that one is a Muslim and another is a Hindu. This is not good. If the norm of Uniform is practiced without any hindrances of religious practices it is possible to heal these divided mindsets. They will continue to have bitter memories but somehow they will come to the right track after sometime. But, it is a difficult process and it takes time.

What does it mean when a girl from Mandya can raise the slogan of Allah Hu Akbar? Where the mindsets have reached? I am not talking about what is right and what is wrong here. Everyone will have their emotions and they react to certain things. But, the reactive mindset has been developed already. How tenable is it for such developments to take place in college campuses?

Q: You have been saying hijab row is the result of international conspiracy, can you elaborate on that?

A: There are three things. Firstly, when it was not even known to the state that students wearing hijab were not sent to schools. No news was covered in this regard. Before the local media could pick up, few international media took it up. Secondly, ruling that hijab is not a part of uniform was not new at all. Karnataka was not the first state to make this rule. In 2015, Bombay High Court gave a ruling and banned hijab. No international agency spoke about it… so called secular leaders from New Delhi have also remained tight lipped. In 2018, the order was given in Kerala in this regard, but that did not emerge as an international issue. There, Muslim Education Society had approached court, the court said hijab is not allowed and students have to wear prescribed uniform by the institution. Thirdly, Delhi Apex Court and the Supreme Court stated the same, however, these did not make into international news. How come it has become an issue now? How can making uniform compulsory in one of the colleges of Karnataka become an international issue? Many nations have banned hijab. Muslim nations have banned hijab. Why didn’t it become an international issue?

The country is making progress under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The country is being respected. The country is overcoming the Corona crisis, no one expected it. Why did Pakistan, which has not reacted till date, react on the issue? Every day that country faces such problems on a daily basis. Asking six students not to wear hijab as per rules is a major international issue? We have just asked students to maintain prescribed uniforms, why can’t students just follow?

Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel laureate herself, said that these things are holding back women, and these are the instruments which take away their freedom. They (protesting students) open Twitter accounts on the same day, tweet on the same day? These are matters of investigation, I should not go deep into it. If the act of making uniform compulsory for six students is being portrayed as oppression of Muslims, in a large country like ours which has a huge Muslim population, what else is this?

I do not have the capacity to depute a senior lawyer in the High Court for arguing my case. How can these children afford them? Three senior counsel in the Supreme Court are arguing for them. Honourable Chief Justice when assures that the case will be taken up on an everyday basis and give ruling, what is the meaning of them approaching the Supreme Court?

The media propagated falsely that the rule on hijab was not there all these days, if you observe this, one group must be working behind all this. It is natural to get suspicious about it and people are observing it.

Q: RSS and Sangh Parivar are squarely blamed for the hijab crisis. What do you have to say about the allegation?

A: Initially what they thought was there was no rule on uniform in the state. They were under the illusion that there is no uniform for PUC. They initially questioned it first. The government gave clarification about the act and rule. After that they went to the court. In court also they did not get relief. Slowly, they are realizing that the issue is boomeranging on them. People are also against them, the media by and large in general except for few national televisions are realizing that it is wrong. They are blaming RSS to get an escape route. From where does RSS come in the issue? Students wearing saffron shawls is a natural reaction, like how the girl (college student in Mandya PES College) spontaneously shouted ‘Allah hu Akbar’ slogan in front of the crowd. She is now being felicitated by Mumbai MLA, Karnataka leader C.M. Ibrahim visits her, why do they go?

Q: First it was Covid crisis, now it is the hijab. How are you managing?

A: I am getting cooperation from everyone. It’s a team decision, all are involved. Our teachers responded and conducted classes, we boosted their morale. I have chosen good officers.

Q: What is your message to students and parents?

A: Please come to classes in uniform like before in a disciplined manner. Examinations have been declared, I request them to focus on studies and build their career. For those girls who took up agitation, no one has a fixed opinion on you… If you start coming to classes, everything will be alright in sometime. Please leave the ego behind and attend classes. Their parents should also give good guidance to their wards and send them to schools.

I am very happy to see concern for education among Muslim girls who are not wearing hijabs and attending classes. In spite of all this crisis, they are not bothered about anything, they are with their friends and showed the nation and the world that we are all one and proved that they will follow discipline. I appreciate those girls. There are 9 colleges in Udupi, among them barring these 6 girls, no other students took part in the matters like this.

By

M.K. ASHOKA

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