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Hijab row: High schools reopen in Karnataka amid prohibitory orders in sensitive areas

Hijab row: High schools reopen in Karnataka amid prohibitory orders in sensitive areas
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Bengaluru: After a near week-long hijab row forced holiday, high schools in Karnataka reopened on Monday, amid prohibitory orders in Udupi, which witnessed violence and tension last week, and sensitive areas of Dakshina Kannada and Bengaluru.

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been imposed in sensitive areas in the said districts.

In Udupi district, all the schools that reopened witnessed normal attendance, Education Department sources said. Muslim girl students who reached the school campuses wearing hijabs, and removed them before entering classes.

Examinations scheduled for the day are also going on in the institutions.

The district administration has imposed Section 144 of CrPC around 200-metre radius of all high schools in the district from Monday till February 19 to maintain peace.

Udupi Tahsildar Pradeep Kurudekar, who visited a few schools, said Muslim students were abiding by the High Court's interim order by removing hijabs before entering classes. There were no reports of Hindu students turning up in saffron shawls.

Police personnel have been posted in Udupi town and near the schools to maintain law and order and to avoid any untoward incident.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Udupi Pejawar mutt chief Swami Vishwaprasanna Teertha appealed to all sections to avoid chaos and maintain peace.

In some goverment schools in Koppal and Kalaburagi districts, students appeared in classrooms wearing hijab as well as burqa, sources in the Education Department said. However, officials who reached the spot later asked the students to remove them.

In Shivamogga, a few students insisted that they should be allowed to go inside the schools wearing burqa despite instruction by the school authorities not to enter the premises wearing either hijab or burqa as the High Court has restrained them from doing so.

However, they were not allowed entry into the school citing the HC order, even as the girls feigned ignorance about the court order. Subsequently, there was an argument between the teachers and students.

On Sunday, ahead of reopening of schools, state Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed confidence that peace and normalcy will prevail. He had also said a decision regarding reopening of Pre-University and Degree colleges will be taken after assessing the situation.

The government on Friday said the holiday announced to universities belonging to the department of Higher Education and colleges under the Department of Collegiate and Technical Education (DCTE), in the wake of the raging hijab row, has been extended till February 16.

The Karnataka High Court, in its interim order pending consideration of all petitions related to the hijab row, earlier requested the state government to reopen educational institutions and restrained all the students from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab and any religious flag within the classroom.

On January 1, 2022, six girl students of a college in Udupi attended a press conference held by Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into the classroom by wearing hijab.

This was four days after they requested the principal permission to wear hijabs in classes which was not allowed. Till then, students used to wear the hijab to the campus and entered the classroom after removing the scarves, the college principal Rudre Gowda had said.

"The institution did not have any rule on hijab-wearing as such and since no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces," Gowda had said.

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