A Kalyana Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KKSRTC) bus driver’s refusal to allow Muslim female students without burqas to board the bus at Kamalapur taluk bus stand in Kalaburagi district on Thursday has sparked outrage among netizens on social media and drawn attention to issues of religious discrimination.
According to eyewitness accounts, a group of students, including female students wearing hijabs, were waiting to board a bus heading to Okali. However, the bus driver insisted that the female students wear burqas before they could be allowed on the bus. The students attempted to explain that they were merely seeking to travel to their destination in Okali, but the driver remained adamant in his stance.
Faced with the driver’s discriminatory behavior, the students decided to board a different bus that was heading to Okali village. The incident, which was captured on video, showcases the confrontation between the students and the driver, making its way onto social media platforms and further fueling public anger over religious attire-based discrimination.
Following the incident, the female students, aged between 14 and 18, filed complaints with their teachers, who took up the matter with the bus driver. However, the response from the driver was reportedly aggressive and loud.
The video footage has gone viral, intensifying the public outcry and drawing attention to the issue of discrimination based on religious attire. In the video, the victim student is heard recounting that after spotting her wearing a hijab, the driver inquired about her name. When she chose not to disclose her name, the driver responded, “If you are a Muslim, you should wear a burqa, only then I will allow you to board the bus.”
KKSRTC officials promptly launched an investigation into the matter after the video began circulating on social media. The bus driver involved in the incident has been identified as Mehaboob from the Basavakalyan bus depot.
Bidar district KKSRTC divisional security inspector (DSI) H K Mallikarjuna confirmed that he had visited the Kanakapura bus stand to probe the issue, gathering information and statements from the bus conductor, students, and the general public. He stated that, based on preliminary findings, the driver appeared to be at fault. A detailed report will be submitted to the KKSRTC divisional controller, who will then initiate appropriate disciplinary action.
The incident has also raised discussions about the Shakti scheme, implemented by the Congress government, which offers free travel for girl students on government buses to encourage female education and provide them with better access to educational opportunities. However, government orders prohibit the wearing of burqas in schools.