Amid the raging row over wearing 'Hijab' in educational institutions in Karnataka, state Education Minister B C Nagesh on Sunday said students who are unwilling to adhere to the uniform dress code are at liberty to explore other options.
"Just as rules are followed in the military, the same is to be done here (in educational institutions) as well. Options are open for those who are not willing to follow it, which they can make use of," Nagesh told reporters in Mysuru.
The minister appealed to the students not to become 'tools' in the hands of political parties.
The Bommai government had on Saturday issued a circular banning clothes which disturbed peace, harmony and, law and order in the educational institutions across the state.
On the circular, Nagesh said the government felt the need to clarify on this matter and issued a circular.
He also clarified that the students can to come to the school wearing Hijab, but inside the campus they have to place it in their bags.
Wondering why the problem emerged all of a sudden when students of all the faiths were coming to schools wearing uniform, he said everyone was learning and playing together with a sense of equality but never ever have religious differences cropped up.
According to Nagesh, trouble began in December when some children in Udupi were instigated to wear Hijab saying 'Sharia' (Islamic law) prescribes such dress code and they were duty-bound to abide by it.
The minister further claimed that many children were asked to do so but a majority of them did not agree.
"In Udupi school where the incident occurred, out the 92 Muslim children only six girls came wearing Hijab and succumbed to the 'poisonous seeds'. Other children came to the school wearing their school uniform," he said.
Rejecting the Congress party's charge that the BJP government does not want Muslim students to continue their studies, Nagesh pointed out that the Karnataka Education Act was not brought by the BJP but Congress, which had ruled for maximum years in the state.
The minister urged the grand old party not to create divisions in the society for political gains.
In December last year, some girl students started coming to a government school in Udupi district wearing Hijab, against the prescribed uniform norm.
In protest against the violation of dress code, a section of Hindu students also started coming to classes wearing saffron shawls.
Even before the matter could be resolved, the hijab-saffron shawl controversy spread to more pre-university colleges in the state. In Kalaburagi district headquarters town, Muslim girls led by the Congress MLA Kaneez Fathima staged a protest on Saturday demanding permission to allow female students in the schools and pre-university colleges to wear Hijab. The issue took a political turn with the political parties in the state indulging in mudslinging.
While the Congress backed the Muslim girls citing constitutional rights guaranteed, the BJP stood against wearing of 'Hijab' in classes with its state president saying the state government will not allow Talibanisation of the education system.
The Karnataka High Court on February 8 will hear the petitions filed by five girls studying in a Government Pre-university College in Udupi, questioning hijab restriction in college.