Bengaluru: A massive row has erupted in Karnataka after a government college banned Hijab on the campus calling it “indiscipline”.
Protested rocked Karnataka’s Udupi district after Hijab-wearing girls were denied entry. Carrying placards, girl students staged a protest demanding to be allowed to wear Hijab.
“We came to the college wearing a hijab. However, we have been barred once again from attending the classes,” Aliya, one of the students, told a television channel.
“We’ve been barred for 20 days for wearing hijab. We want justice,” Resham said, as another student, Muskan Zainab, asked, “The Constitution gives us the right to wear a hijab, why is the college stopping that?”
The fresh protests come a day after college authorities and district officials gave the students an ultimatum – fall in line with the dress code and receive an education, or wear one and go home.
Education Minister BC Nagesh told the television channel the practice amounted to “indiscipline” and that schools and colleges were “not a place to practice dharma”.
Nagesh also accused “a few people” – a reference to the PFI-associated Campus Front of India backing the students – of politicizing the issue ahead of the 2023 Assembly election, and demanded to know why the students “want to practice constitutional rights now”.
On that charge the students today denied any connection to the CFI.
“We are not influenced by Campus Front of India. We are not a part of them. Since we did not get a positive response (or) any support, we approached CFI,” Aliya said.
Earlier Nagesh said dress code had been in place since 1985 and that these protests only erupted 15-20 days ago.
He claimed over 100 Muslim students enrolled at that particular college had no issue and “only these students don’t want to follow (the dress code)… School is not a place to practice dharma”.
Protesting students said their parents had repeatedly requested college authorities to allow them to wear the Hijab but to no avail.
“We can’t sit comfortably… That is why we are wearing a hijab. This is a government college… a girl’s college (but) we have male lecturers. If there are women lecturers, we don’t mind sitting without a hijab but we have male lecturers. We are not comfortable,” Safa, a second-year student, said.
Aliya said there is religious discrimination in the college. “We can’t say ‘salaam’… can’t talk in Urdu even though it is a government college. Other students are allowed to speak in Tulu (a local language)… lecturers speak to us in Tulu. But we are not allowed to speak in Urdu,” she said.
She also insisted the college’s terms and conditions make no reference to the wearing of a hijab; “Why are they acting like we are committing a crime? We are only asking for a headscarf,” she said.
Yesterday Nagesh acknowledged the state government “has not fixed a uniform (dress) code” but urged the protesting students to nonetheless follow the rule.