– Mohammed Atherulla Shariff
Bengaluru, October 24, 2023: Candidates appearing for competitive and recruitment-related exams conducted by the Karnataka Examinations Authority, will be allowed to wear hijabs, the higher education minister M C Sudhakar has said.
In a meeting held on Sunday under the leadership of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Education Minister Sudhakar, to discuss the State Education Policy and the issue of filling vacancies, it was decided that the students will be allowed to wear a Hijab while writing the exams.
Sudhakar said, “Some want to raise objections to small things, but we cannot infringe on the rights of people. Even in NEET, candidates are allowed to wear Hijab,” the minister has said categorically.
“I think people who are protesting should verify the guidelines of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exam. I don’t know why they are making an issue out of this,” he added. The minister also said that people had the right to wear what they wanted to, “This is a secular country; people are free to dress however they want.”
The clarification, it is understood, will also apply to the exams that are being held in Karnataka on October 28 and 29 to fill vacancies in five corporations, among other bodies.
Sudhakar’s comments come against the backdrop of the Hijab row in Karnataka, which erupted last year after the Government PU College in Udupi barred six girls wearing Hijabs from entering the classroom, sparking a protest by the girls.
The protest was met with counter-protests by some Hindu students in college who demanded they be allowed to wear saffron scarves, and the issue soon spread to other colleges in the state.
Petitions were also filed in the Karnataka High Court on behalf of the aggrieved students in the Udupi college, and after a protracted hearing spread over 11 days, the HC upheld the ban on the Hijab in educational institutions, declaring that the Hijab was not an essential part of religious practice.