“Hijab is integral part of my identity,” says Tabassum Shaik who tops Karnataka state board exam

“I didn’t want to give up hijab.. it is part of my identity.. it was an injustice..” said Tabassum Shaik, Karnataka state board exam topper in the II PUC. Photo: The Hindu

“I didn’t want to give up hijab. it is a part of my identity. It was an injustice..” said Tabassum Shaik, Karnataka state board exam topper.

Tabassum Shaik, daughter of a hardware engineer and a homemaker and a student from NMKRV PU college, Bengaluru, emerged as the topper In the Arts stream with 593 for 600 marks, scoring 98.83%.

“It was a period of uncertainty. I was very confused and depressed because hijab is integral part of my identity and also part of my religion. I have been wearing hijab since I was five. So, it was very difficult for me to give it up and I didn’t want to,” Tabassum said when India Today journalist asked if the hijab ban had affected her.

“It’s a secular country. I should be allowed to wear my hijab and pursue my education. So it felt very unfair and injustice,” she said.

“When the verdict came out, my parents encouraged me to comply with orders. I didn’t attend college for two weeks because I was very confused what I should do. But my parents said that if I was able to acquire education, then I could get to a position where I could prevent such injustices from happening in the future. So that was my main motive for continuing to attend college,” she said to India Today.

Tabassum who intends to pursue Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology said to The Hindu: “I am very interested in Sociology, Political science, Economics subjects. I am also very curious about psychology. That is why I opted for Arts stream in PU.”

Muslim students in Karnataka have been protesting the ban on hijab in educational institutions, saying the Islamophobic move of the Karnataka government had violated their religious freedom guaranteed under India’s constitution.

Muslim students, activists, and Opposition leaders across the country had alleged that these attacks on Muslim symbols and practices were part of the larger Hindutva agenda of imposing majoritarian values on the country’s 200 million Muslims.

In October last year, the Supreme Court of India had delivered a split verdict on petitions challenging the 2022 March 15 Karnataka High Court verdict dismissing a batch of pleas filed by Muslim girls studying in pre-university colleges in Udupi seeking right to wear Hijab in classrooms.

Justice Hemant Gupta had dismissed the 26 appeals filed against the judgment of the Karnataka High Court which held that hijab was not an essential practice of Islam and allowed the ban on wearing headscarf in educational institutions in the State. Expressing the divergence in his opinion, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia set aside the Karnataka High Court judgment and held that the entire concept of essential religious practice was not essential to the dispute.

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