The hijab crisis which made international headlines and pushed Karnataka under the spotlight has been seen as a development detrimental to the image of the state which is considered one of the most progressive and prosperous in the country. However, insiders in the BJP and the RSS confide that the crisis has proved to be a shot in the arm for them ahead of the state assembly polls.
The hijab row played out over months in the state with initially the month-long protests by 6 students of the Udupi Pre-University Girl’s College who demanded that they be allowed to wear a hijab while attending classes, later, the protests, afterwards the legal battle, resistance to the High Court order by a section of Muslim religious leaders and masses have all gone in favour of the ruling BJP, party sources said.
The BJP wanted polarisation among the Hindu masses. The hijab crisis and developments with regard to the resistance to the government order as well as the court order delivered it on a silver platter to the BJP, sources said.
The youth who were not so keen on Hindutva have now become ardent Hindutva followers. They flaunted saffron shawls and this has ensured the formation of future cadres who will cast their votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, insiders claimed.
The Congress is the loser in the whole episode as the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) got the sympathy of the minority community in the state. BJP leaders proposed to impose a ban on SDPI alleging that they have trained the girls to stage a protest for the hijab.
The 6 girls who started the protest praised the SDPI and how it had helped them and clarified that it was they who approached the SDPI for help.
Congress leaders D.K. Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah launched a scathing attack on the RSS for creating social unrest.
Chaman Farzana, educationist and national secretary of the All India Mahila Congress, told IANS that a non-issue has been made into an issue which will have a direct bearing on the education of a girl belonging to the minority community.
The concept of a uniform was brought by the Britishers. Why adopt a British norm here, why is hijab not being allowed? In north Karnataka, none of the women come out of their homes without a cloth around their heads. Small girls seeking an education come out of their houses in veils. They have become sufferers. Is it right for anyone to make them suffer? Farzana questioned.
In orthodox Muslim families education is rare among girls. Now, when the hijab is banned the parents are asking them to marry and settle down. It is a great loss to the nation, she said.
Following the protest by Muslim religious leaders and traders against the dismissal of petitions seeking permission to wear the hijab in classes, a series of communal incidents followed. Hindu activists declared a ban on Muslim traders which again made headlines. It trickled down to the demand for the prohibition of the use of loudspeakers in mosques.
However, the situation came under control after Muslim religious leaders announced that they will follow the court order. The majority of students belonging to the minority community started coming for exams and classes without the hijab. A few of them who resisted were sent back home from their classes.
Congress MLA and former Minister U.T. Khader said that the hijab crisis is over in Karnataka. Education is most important and it is very important to educate girls. There should be no hindrance. The hijab rule by the court and the government should be taken positively.
The court has given a judgement and students will have to follow the law. The issue came up because of 6 students, he maintained.
Khader stated that one has to take risks for the good of society and he is doing the same. The first preference is peace, development and progress. It is not fair to put the careers of thousands of students at risk for the sake of 4 to 5 students.
“Our duty is to point out the right path, ultimately it is left to them. Ultimately it is a loss for them. We have to leave a good society for the future generation,” he stated.
As the elections are fast approaching it is feared that the hijab row could make a comeback in the state. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Education Minister B.C. Nagesh have said that they will implement the uniform rule strictly. Educational institutions are asking students to take transfer certificates and join other colleges if they do not want to shun the hijab. Presently, the issue is before the Supreme Court.