The noxious controversy over hijabs in Karnataka’s schools and colleges is “unnecessary and not in the interest of peace and harmony”, the Ramakrishna Ashram in the state’s Karwar has said, defending a lawyer who has faced attacks for representing Muslim students in the case.
Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, who has been targeted by right-wing commentators for citing Islamic scriptures to defend students fighting for the right to wear hijabs in schools and colleges, has done no disservice to the Hindu religion, the ashram’s top priest has said in a statement.
“An unnecessary discussion is going on about the dress code of Muslim girls in Schools/Colleges, and, I am pained to witness a raging controversy in this regards at different levels of the Society. This is certainly not in good taste, and, in the interest of peace and harmony in the Society,” Swami Bhaveshanand said.
“I am more pained to observe that the name of Shri Devadatt Kamat – Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court is being dragged in this controversy simply because he represented a party in the Court as an Advocate,” he said.
“Some elements are trying to brand him as supporting a cause against Hindu Religion. This perception is absolutely uncalled for and baseless. A lawyer representing a client in the court has to do his duty and justice to his client’s cause. That is a professional duty and responsibility. It cannot be branded as a cause against the Hindu Religion,” Swami Bhaveshanand added.
Calling the attacks on Mr Kamat “unjustified and orchestrated baseless propaganda that is being perpetrated by some unscrupulous elements,” the priest applauded the advocate’s antecedents as a “devout follower of Shri Ramakrishna Vivekanand Philosophy”.
Arguing for students who have been told not to wear hijabs to schools and colleges in the state’s Udupi, Mr Kamat had on Thursday told the Karnataka High Court that the religious headscarves were part of their culture which cannot be impinged upon.
“Our fundamental right is held hostage to the college development committee. The government order says the prohibition of headscarves is not a violation of Article 25. The GO (Government Order) is not as innocuous as the state government says,” Mr Kamat said.
He also cited verses from the Quran which said it was incumbent upon women to cover their heads before anyone other than close family members.
The controversy over Hijabs erupted in Karnataka in late December as Muslim students wearing hijabs to a government college in Udupi faced protests that have since grown so virulent that the state government has had to close schools for Classes 11 and 12 as well as colleges till Wednesday.