Karnataka allows students to wear hijab for examinations
On 5 February 2022, the BJP-led Karnataka government had issued a notification banning the hijab or head scarf worn by Muslim women
Candidates in Karnataka will be allowed to wear hijabs to competitive and recruitment-related exams, state higher education minister MC Sudhakar has said.
The minister said that by not permitting candidates to wear the hijab, the government would be "infringing on the rights of people. Even in NEET, candidates are allowed to wear hijab”.
“Some people want to raise objections for everything. This is a secular country. People are free to dress however they want. I think people who are protesting should verify the guidelines of the NEET exam. I don't know why they are making an issue out of this," said Sudhakar.
He added that students wearing the hijab would have to appear at the exam hall at least an hour before the examination. "They (students) will be thoroughly checked. We don't want any malpractice," he said.
It is understood that the clarification will also apply to the exams being held in Karnataka on 28 and 29 October to fill vacancies in five corporations, among other bodies.
Sudhakar’s comments come in the backdrop of the hijab row in Karnataka, which erupted last year after the Government PU College in Udupi barred six girls wearing hijabs from entering the classroom.
On 5 February 2022, the previous BJP-led Karnataka government had issued a notification stating that "clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn". This was intended for those who wear hijabs. A month later, Karnataka High Court upheld the state government's ban on the hijab, declaring that the head scarf was not an essential part of religious practice.
After the Congress came to power in the state in May 2023, the party's lone Muslim woman MLA Kaneez Fatima had said the ban would be revoked. Karnataka IT-BT minister Priyank Kharge also said in May that the hijab ban order would be revised or withdrawn after review.