Hijab row: Teachers are being threatened, counsel tells Karnataka HC

Bengaluru:  The Karnataka High Court was on Wednesday informed by counsel appearing for teachers on Wednesday that the teachers of the Udupi Pre-University Girl’s College have been threatened against the backdrop of hijab row.

Senior counsel S.S. Naganand informed the three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi that he has received information about teachers being threatened and a complaint has been lodged in this regard with the local police. “Teachers are threatened by an organisation,” he said.

At this, Justice Krishna S. Dixit, who is also on the bench along with Justice J.M. Khazi, took objection and asked why the matter was not brought to the notice of the bench. “You should have disclosed it to us. Are you afraid of it or what?” he questioned Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi. Navadgi stated that he does not have the information on the development, and will seek an update.

Naganand also told the bench about the role of the Campus Front of India (CFI) in creating the hijab row in the state. “CFI is drum-beating and chest-beating for hijab. They are not representatives of anyone. It is a radical organisation which is coming and creating commotion on hijab row,” he claimed.

At this, the Chief Justice asked what information does the government have on this organisation. “How this hijab row came to fore suddenly, does the government have intelligence inputs?” he asked.

Naganand also contended that the allegations of threats against the principals and teachers are “sweeping and generalised”.

“It is not mentioned what threat was given? The threat is shown as to mark them absent. What is the threat here?

“The teachers have quasi-parental authority on students. If the child is doing something which it is not supposed to do in the school, they will be warned and if they are still defiant in the class, they will be punished. It is a matter of discipline.

“Authority of schools cannot be belittled. The decision regarding hijab has not been questioned since 2004. Let drum beaters not threaten the society. It is a harmonious society and in Udupi, from where the hijab row has started, religious pontiffs are supported by Muslims. They attend functions, they help, assist,” Naganand said.

The hijab row which started from Udupi Pre-University Girls’ College has become a crisis in the state, with students refusing to attend classes without hijab and maintaining that they will wait until the final verdict is given. the high court had issued an interim order banning both hijab and saffron shawls or scarves inside the classrooms, the agitation is ongoing.

The special bench is hearing the matter on a day-to-today basis and has asked the counsel to complete their submissions by this weekend.

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