Karnataka: Govt College Students Denied Entry Into Class For Wearing Hijabs

The students also claimed that they were being stopped from speaking Urdu, Arabic and Beary languages.

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New Delhi: Six Muslim students were barred from attending classes on account of their wearing hijabs at a pre-university (PU) college for women in Karnataka’s Udupi district, Hindustan Times reported.

Apart from the dress-code issue, the students and their parents also claimed that they were not allowed to talk in Urdu, Arabic or Beary languages. As a result of these restrictions, the students began demonstrating outside the classroom on Saturday, January 1, and have been there for three days now.

According to the students, school authorities had called the parents of these students to discuss the matter but had made them wait for four hours when they did come to school and that principal Rudra Gowda refused to discuss the issue with them. Another student told the newspaper that no such issue was present before they started wearing hijabs to the college.

The students have also not been given attendance for the days when they came to school in their hijabs, causing concerns that they might fall short of their attendance requirements.

Gowda claimed that, while students could wear hijabs on the university premises, they were not allowed to wear them within the classroom in order to enforce “uniformity”. He told local media that “no provisions to have hijab as the uniform” in the school were in place and thus the students were not allowed to wear them.

Moreover, he told the media that only six of the total 60 students were wearing hijabs and are thus not being allowed to attend classes. Moreover, he claimed to have called the families of the students to discuss the issue. Nothing was said about the students’ claims that they were being prevented from speaking certain languages.

These developments come at a time where divisions along religious lines are ostensibly getting deeper in BJP-ruled Karnataka. The state assembly recently passed the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021, also known as the ‘anti-conversion Bill’ to come down on the supposed menace of forced conversions in the state. Christians in the state believe that the legislation will be used to disproportionately target them. The Bill is still awaiting assent from the state’s legislative council, but has already drawn considerable opposition.

Also read: In Karnataka’s Belagavi, Hindutva Threats And Violence Are Now Part Of Christians’ Daily Lives

What’s more, attacks on minorities, especially Christians, have become more and more frequent in the state of late. On December 23, individuals from Hindutva organisation, Hindu Jagarana Vedike forced their way into a convent school and threatened authorities for hosting Christmas celebrations, organised by the students. This was only one of the seven instances of Christmas celebrations being disrupted by Hindutva forces in the country.

On December 11, a right-wing group attacked Christians in the state’s Kolar district, even setting fire to their religious books. Despite the increasing frequency of such attacks, ministers of the Karnataka government claim that both sides are to blame in these cases.

With regards to the present incident, five of the six students who were not allowed to enter the classroom, along with members of the Islamic Organisation of India, formed a delegation and visited district collector Kurma Rao on Saturday, however, the newspaper noted that he did not respond to requests for a comment.

Nazeer Ahmed, unit chief of the Social Democratic Party of India, Udupi, said that the party would organise demonstrations if students were not permitted to attend classes while wearing hijabs.

Similarly, the Campus Front of India threatened a gherao if the college did not reconsider its decision.