In a recent development, the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) clarified on Wednesday that it has not banned the wearing of hijab in the upcoming recruitment exams scheduled for November 18 and 19 across the state. This announcement follows the KEA’s earlier restrictions on the dress code for exam centers, citing instances of malpractice.
Dress Code Controversy:
The controversy arose when the KEA, in an attempt to curb malpractice in recruitment exams, initially declared a dress code that prohibited wearing any garment or cap covering the head, mouth, or ears within exam centers. This move was prompted by the apprehension of cheating incidents, particularly after more than 20 candidates were arrested for using Bluetooth devices during exams held on October 28 in Kalaburagi and Yadgir for the recruitment of First Division Assistants (FDA) in government departments.
In response to widespread criticism, the KEA reconsidered its stringent dress code and decided to permit the wearing of hijabs during the upcoming recruitment exams. S Ramya, Executive Director of KEA, emphasized the continuation of hijab permission for the November 18 and 19 exams. Candidates, however, are required to report to the exam center two hours prior to the scheduled time to facilitate thorough frisking, ensuring the fair conduct of exams as per the instructions from the police department.
Dr M C Sudhakar, the Karnataka Higher Education Minister, clarified that the dress code prescribed for the upcoming recruitment examination is not a new imposition. He stated that there was no restriction on hijab previously, and the current dress code primarily addresses garments or caps that cover the head, mouth, or ears unnecessarily. Sudhakar further explained that the decision to extend frisking hours from one to two was a response to allegations of malpractice involving Bluetooth devices during the previous month’s exams.
Threats of Protest:
Despite the clarification from KEA and the Higher Education Minister, right-wing groups have issued threats to protest the decision to allow hijabs during the exams. They claim that this decision violates a Karnataka High Court order. The tensions are fueled by the wider debate around cultural and religious practices intersecting with educational regulations, raising concerns about potential clashes between regulatory frameworks and personal freedoms.