Despite the rulebook allowing girls to wear hijab to classes, a private college in Kundapur of Udupi district in Karnataka has barred entry to them over the issue. On February 4, the authorities at the Bhandarkars' Arts and Science College made the decision after protests from boys in the college who wore saffron shawls to classes.
Al-rifa, a student from Bhandarkars' College, told TNM that the college authorities communicated the decision to them on the morning of February 4. "The calendar book given at the start of the year says we are permitted to wear the hijab. Suddenly, the college announced today that the hijab is not permitted. The college authorities said that there was a protest by boys who wanted to wear saffron shawls," Al-rifa says.
TNM accessed a copy of the calendar book that states: "Girl students are permitted to wear the scarf in the campus. However, the colour of the scarf should be that of their dupatta. No student is allowed to wear any other cloth inside the campus including in the college canteen."
The move to ban the hijab on campus comes a day after a government college in Kundapur closed the gates on students wearing the headscarf. Another private college in Kundapur, Dr BB Hegde First Grade College, has also barred entry to students wearing the hijab following boys on campus taking to wearing saffron shawls to classes.
On February 4, the students of Bhandarkars' College sat outside the gates in protest. "There are 60-65 Muslim girls in the college and almost all of us are protesting this decision. What about our education?" Al-rifa asks.
College principal Narayana Shetty, addressing the students outside the college, said that he decided to bar the students after he received reports of the possibility of unrest in the college. "There was no issue in the college till Wednesday evening. I received messages yesterday. According to the messages I received, there was a possibility of unrest in the college and the principal had to maintain the peace. I had to act on the instructions from the government. There was a possibility of 200 students wearing the saffron shawl inside the college, so we have been told not to allow any religious symbols," the principal said.
Bhandarkar's college in Kundapur denied entry to students wearing hijab today. But students point out the college diary for 2021-22 mentions that headscarf is allowed as long as the color of the scarf matches the dupatta. pic.twitter.com/rXsu6sr7Apâ€” Prajwal (@prajwalmanipal) February 4, 2022
In the other college â€” Dr.B B Hegde First Grade College â€” students wearing the hijab were initially told to go to a classroom after the first hour of classes on Friday morning. The students were then told to leave the college. "Since my admission in the college, I have been wearing the hijab in class, but today, we were told to leave the college and go back home. We were told that we will not be given attendance. Some boys had worn the saffron shawl to college but after we left, the boys took off their shawls and continued their classes. We have been sent out of the college since we have to wear the hijab," a student from the BB Hegde First Grade College said.
The students of the Government Pre-University College in Kundapura held a day-long protest outside the college gates on Friday urging the college administration to allow them to return to their classes. This comes a day after college authorities shut the gates on students wearing the hijab on February 3. In this college too, the decision by the college principal was forced by a protest by students wearing saffron shawls to the classroom.
Protest by students of Government PU College, Kundapura
Previously, in December 2021, a government pre-university college in Udupi barred students wearing the headscarf from entering the classroom. Despite the fact that the students were not flouting any rule by wearing the hijab, they havenâ€™t been allowed to attend classes for over a month. One of them has since moved the Karnataka High Court, asking the court to direct the college to let the students enter their classrooms. The court will be hearing the case on Tuesday.
Though there are no rules about the hijab in the college rulebook or in the state governmentâ€™s guidelines for pre-university colleges, the state Education Department directed the college in Udupi to â€śmaintain the status quoâ€ť â€” or, enforce the uniform that has been put in place by the institute and not allow students to wear the hijab. The students however have sat out their classes for over a month, insisting that the hijab is a part of their faith and that it is their fundamental right to wear it to college. The state Education Department, in its directions to the government college in Udupi, had admitted that there is no mandatory uniform for government college students. The order also stated that an expert committee will be set up to decide on the uniform and dress codes in colleges in the state.
Read: After Udupi, more Karnataka colleges close doors to students wearing hijab