Will always support uniforms in schools; no hijab or other dresses: BJP

Citing popular protests in Iran against mandatory use of hijabs, CT Ravi claimed that religion freedom in India cannot mean promotion of "separatist" designs.

Will always support uniforms in schools; no hijab or other dresses: BJP Hijab Ban (Representative image)
Press Trust of India | Oct 13, 2022 - 4:16 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The BJP on Thursday asserted that it will always be opposed to students wearing hijab or any dress other than uniforms in schools, and said religious freedom cannot be used to promote "separatism". Soon after the Supreme Court gave a split verdict on the ban on hijabs in Karnataka educational institutions, BJP national general secretary CT Ravi, a senior party leader from the state, said it will not be appropriate for him to comment on the judgement.

But he will always speak against the "separatist mindset" that, he claimed, promotes the use of Muslim headscarf in schools. "Uniform in schools is meant to promote uniformity among students. I believe that separatism is promoted in the garb of issues like promotion of burqa or hijab. This mindset was the reason behind India's partition. This separatism progressively morphs into extremism which can be a source of terrorism," he claimed.

Rules mandating wearing uniform in Karnataka schools have been in force since 1965, he said. Citing popular protests in Iran, an Islamic country, against the mandatory use of hijabs, he claimed that religion freedom in India cannot mean promotion of "separatist" designs.

Also read | Hijab ban to continue in Karnataka schools, colleges till SC verdict: Education Minister

He added that the issue is not about wearing or not wearing hijab but what to wear in schools. And there should be no hijab or other dresses in schools but only uniforms, he said. Following the split verdict, the two-judge Supreme Court bench referred the matter to the chief justice of India for constituting a larger bench.

While Justice Hemant Gupta dismissed the appeals against the March 15 verdict of the Karnataka High Court that had refused to lift the ban and held that hijab is not part of "essential religious practice" in Islamic faith, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed the pleas and observed that it is ultimately a "matter of choice".

During the arguments in the top court, a number of counsel appearing for the petitioners had insisted that preventing Muslim girls from wearing the hijab to the classroom will put their education in jeopardy as they might stop attending classes.

The counsel appearing for the state had argued that the Karnataka government order that kicked up a row over hijab was "religion neutral". Insisting that the agitation in support of wearing hijab in educational institutions was not a "spontaneous act" by a few individuals, the state's counsel had argued in the apex court that the government would have been "guilty of dereliction of constitutional duty" if it had not acted the way it did.

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