Cover Feature
SASG Confronts Karnataka Education Minister in London on Hijab Ban and Bajrang Dal Arms Training

On 19 May, 2022, the Higher Education Minister of Karnataka who has enforced the Hijab Ban in educational institutions in his state and is responsible for the exclusion of Muslim girls and women from education and their subsequent targetting, was the keynote speaker at the Commonwealth Education Conference organised by Bridge India and sponsored by Birmingham City University among others. His speech consisted of shamelessly gaslighting claims about the equity and inclusivity of Karnataka education policy which will soon become national policy of the Modi regime in India. He said, “We as philosophy and culture embrace 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', we stand for universal human values. India is known for tolerance, inclusiveness, there's no question of discrimination of any person, we live in communal harmony.”

In response, Kalpana Wilson of South Asia Solidarity Group asked him:

“You spoke about equity and inclusion being at the heart of your policy on education and in particular women from marginalised communities, I wonder if you see any contradiction with what we are seeing under your leadership…  

We’ve seen young Muslim girls being systematically excluded from their colleges purely because they're expressing their faith by wearing a hijab. Under your watch we've seen these students being taunted and harassed by gangs shouting Islamophobic abuses empowered by the ruling party – your party.

Under your watch, we've seen Muslims women teachers being humiliated at school gates and compelled to uncover simply to pursue their employment. And most recently we've seen an educational institution in Karnataka being used for an arms training camp by Bajrang Dal, which is a violent militant organisation responsible for many mob lynchings and murders of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, so I wonder, Mr. Minister, whether you see a contradiction there with what you've just said.”

The Minister was left floundering for a convincing answer.