This Article is From Feb 07, 2022

2 Carrying "Lethal Weapons" At Karnataka 'Hijab' Protest Arrested: Police

Protests over the right to wear a hijab began weeks ago after six students at a government college said they had been barred from wearing the headgear

Police are on the lookout for three other accused


Two people have been arrested in Kundapur in Karnataka's Udupi district for allegedly carrying lethal weapons during a protest at a government college over students' right to wear a hijab in classrooms.

The accused - at least one is a repeat offender - have been charged with attempted homicide, rioting with a deadly weapon, and criminal conspiracy. They were part of a group of five people spotted loitering around the protest site on Friday, and are not believed to be part of the students' agitation.

"Two have been arrested, three are absconding. We are trying to trace them. They had one knife and they were not locals. They are from Gangolli. They have been sent to judicial custody. The case is under investigation," ST Siddalingappa, the Additional SP of Udupi Police, told news agency ANI.

Police told NDTV one of the accused is from a nearby village. Police also said they were searching for the other three accused. It is unclear at this time if they have any political affiliations.

Kundapur Police were acting on information received when they arrived at the protest site and arrested the two accused; the other three managed to flee the scene.The arrested duo are Rajab, 41, and Abdul Majid, 32, who has seven cases registered against him. Cases against both were filed at the police station in Gangolli village near Kundapur town.

Over the past week protests by college students in the district over their right to wear a hijab have grown, as have counter-agitations led, ominously, by other students wearing saffron scarves.

On Saturday videos from a protest site in Kundapur showed some students wearing the scarves over their college uniforms and shouting 'Jai Shri Ram' while going to college. Other videos showed police breaking up groups of saffron-clad protestors gathered near a market area and shouting slogans.

This was on the same day that 40 female students - wearing the hijab - protested at the gates of an arts and science college in Kundapur. College staff refused to let the girls inside the campus.

The students - all between 18 and 20 years old, and missing classes for a second straight day - demanded to know why their college had banned the hijab when the rules did not forbid it.

40 male Muslims students protested in solidarity with their female classmates.

The day before identical scenes unfolded at another college in Kundapur, where the authorities announced an overnight ban on hijabs after other students began wearing saffron shawls. To avoid communal tension, the Muslims students were asked to attend classes without the hijab.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has said students should "neither wear the hijab nor saffron scarves" when attending classes.

The protests have also triggered a political row between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, with Rahul Gandhi accusing the former of "robbing the future of the daughters of India".

The BJP reacted to Mr Gandhi's tweet by accusing him of "communalising education".

With input from ANI