Protests by students in Karnataka over their right to wear the hijab to class have spread to more colleges.
This morning, around 40 women students wearing the hijab stood at the gates of the Bhandarkars Arts and Science Degree College in Kundapur, a coastal town in Udupi district of Karnataka, as the staff refused to let them in unless they took off their headscarves. They missed their classes for the second day.
The students, all between 18 and 20 years, demanded to know why the administration had banned the hijab when the rules allow it.
#WATCH | Students wearing hijab denied entry to Govt PU College in Kundapur area of Udupi, Karnataka amid a row on wearing the headscarf in classrooms— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2022
"They were not wearing the hijab earlier & this problem started only 20 days ago," State Education Minister BC Nagesh has said. pic.twitter.com/3pT418rb0y
The college has an instruction manual that says: "Girl students are permitted to wear the scarf inside the campus, however the colour of the scarf should match with the dupatta, and no student is allowed to wear any other cloth inside the campus including the college canteen".
The principal, Narayan Shetty, said he wanted to preserve harmony on campus. "I am a government employee. I will have to follow all the instructions of the government. I was told that some students will enter the college wearing saffron shawls, and if harmony is disturbed in the name of religion, the principal will be held responsible," he said.
Some 40 Muslim boys also sat outside the college and protested in solidarity with the girls.
Yesterday, another college in Kundapur saw identical scenes when a group of hijab-wearing girls stood outside the gates for six hours. The Junior PU Government College had allowed hijabs in class until two days ago, the girls complained.
The trouble started when a large group of boys showed up in college wearing saffron shawls on Wednesday to counter the hijab. To avoid communal tension, the college administration decided to ask the women to attend classes without the hijab.
The hijab protests began weeks ago at the Government Girls PU college in Udupi district when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf.
A leader of the state's ruling BJP, Yashpal Suvarna, who is the vice president of the Udupi College Administrative Committee, controversially said it would take him "five minutes to stop the resistance with the help of Hindu organisations".
"Through Hindu organisations, we can stop this within five minutes. There are around 900 students in the college. These six students are creating chaos with the support of PFI and CFI (Campus Front of India) organisations. We will stop this resistance for sure, and we will take a decision on how to stop it through Hindu organisations," Mr Suvarna warned.
CT Ravi, another senior BJP leader, said the students should follow rules or stay away.
Today, THEY will ask permission to attend school wearing Hijab.— C T Ravi ???????? ಸಿ ಟಿ ರವಿ (@CTRavi_BJP) February 4, 2022
Tomorrow, THEY will demand Sharia Law.
ONE SCHOOL, ONE UNIFORM.
If you are not following the school rules, stop going to school.
Schools are not your personal space that you can wear whatever you want.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said children should "neither wear the hijab nor saffron shawls" in school. "Schools are the place where children belonging to all religions should learn together and imbibe a feeling that we are not different, and all are children of Bharat Mata," Mr Jnanendra told reporters yesterday.
"There are religious organisations who think otherwise, I have asked the police to keep a watch on them. Those who cause hindrance or undermine this country's unity, they have to be dealt with," he said.