With the hijab row continuing to boil in Karnataka, the number of students failing to appear for the 10th grade board examination rose to 22,063 on Wednesday. Seven teachers were suspended for allowing students to wear hijab in the exam hall.
On Wednesday, for the second language (majorly English) exam for which 8,68,206 students had enrolled, 22,063 of them remained absent. For the first language exams held on Monday, the absentees number was 20,994. The absentee number has increased by 1,069 from Monday. The total number of enrolled students was 8,69,399.
In Gadag district of Karnataka, seven teachers were suspended for allowing students wearing hijab to appear for exams on Monday. The incident was reported at CS Patil girls high school.
GM Basavalingappa, Deputy Director of Public Instruction of Gadag district told that the action was initiated after the incident was reported in electronic media. “On Monday, these teachers who were deployed as exam invigilators had allowed Muslim students to wear head scarf despite clear orders from the government. After some electronic media outlets reported about the incident, we suspended them for violating the order,” he said.
In Jevargi of Kalaburgi district, Sri Rama Sene filed a complaint against a Urdu school teacher named Mohammed Ali for allowing students to wear hijab. Ashok Bhajantri, Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) of Kalaburgi district said that a report has been filed by the Block Education Officer (BEO) “I am not sure whether hijab was part of the uniform prescribed by school authority,” he added.
A source in the education department said that officials are being pressured by the media and right wing groups to initiate action. ‘There are some schools which allow hijab but now these people are capturing videos and are demanding action. Even the teachers who in the interest of the students allowed hijab are facing the music. These right wing activists in the disguise of distributing free masks to the students enter the campus and they record video if students are wearing hijab and circulate it. The Jevargi incident where Sri Rama Sene shot videos in disguise of distributing masks was one of them,’ said the source.
Kalaburagi district reported the maximum number of absentees in the state. According to the data, out of 46,380 students, 2401 persons remained absent on Wednesday. Speaking to Indian Express, Ashok Bhajantri said that many of the absentees are found to be repeaters or private candidates. “We do not have hijab issue here as the students are abiding by it. Majorly, it is repeaters and private candidates who have remained absent.”
Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board director (exams) Gopalkrishna HN said that there were no cases of absentees due to hijab-related issues on Wednesday. ‘I have checked with my staff and such incidents were not reported. The absentees were more private and repeaters and also there were freshers who have remained absent but hijab was not an issue,’ he said.