Karnataka: Another Udupi College Denies Entry to Muslim Students Wearing Hijab

The students said they have been coming to the college with hijab for a long time and they must be permitted, but the principal locked them out.

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New Delhi: Another government school in Karnataka’s Udupi on Thursday disallowed Muslim girls who were wearing hijabs or burqas from entering the college.

According to news agency IANS, the principal of the Bhandarkars’ College of Kundapur of Udupi district told the students that as per the government’s order and the college’s guidelines, they will have to come in uniform to attend classes.

The students argued that they have been coming to the college with hijab for a long time and they must be permitted, but the principal locked them out.

As a form of ‘protest’, some Hindu students had come to Bhandrakars’ College on Wednesday in saffron shawls. They were stopped at the entrance. According to IANS, the students raised slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

Previously, only the Women’s Government Pre-University College in Udupi had disallowed students from wearing hijab or burqa. After more colleges in Karnataka have taken a similar stance, some under pressure from Hindutva groups, the state government has set up a committee to decide if students should be allowed into classrooms with hijabs.

Until the report is submitted, the government had asked students to attend classes without wearing hijab.

Responding to the controversy, Karnataka home minister Araga Jnanendra on Thursday said children should neither wear hijab nor saffron shawls at schools and he has asked the police to keep watch on religious organisations that are trying to “undermine the country’s unity”.

“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,” Jnanendra said in response to a question.

“There are religious organisations who think otherwise, I have asked 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.

Responding to a question about Hindu students wearing saffron shawls and creating an atmosphere of conflict, Jnanendra said, no one should come to school to practise their religion.

However, as one of the students who was denied entry told The News Minute, there is a false equivalency between hijab and saffron shawls. “If the saffron scarf is compulsory for the religion, let them wear it. In our culture, we have to wear the hijab,” the students said.

(With PTI inputs)