FIR against 10 hijab-clad students for protesting at Karnataka college

The FIR has been registered based on the complaint of S Shanmukha, who is the Principal of Empress Girls’ PU College in Tumakuru.
Group of burqa-clad students
Group of burqa-clad students
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An FIR (First Information Report) has been registered against a group of hijab-clad students for protesting outside a Pre-University (PU) college in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district. According to the FIR registered by the police, 10 to 15 unknown students have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 143 (Whoever is a member of an unlawful assembly), 145 (Joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offense commit­ted in prosecution of common object).

The FIR has been registered based on the complaint of S Shanmukha, who is the Principal of Empress Girls’ PU College in Tumakuru. In the FIR, it is stated that there was a prohibitory order under Section 144 of CrPC from February 14, which is when schools and colleges reopened and on February 12, the college, according to the FIR, held a meeting with the parents of the students and had instructed them to educate their children about not wearing a hijab.

The FIR continues to state that at 10 am on Thursday, February 17, a group of 10 to 15 students wearing hijabs had gathered outside the college. According to the FIR, a copy of the prohibitory orders was pasted on the compound wall of the college gate. “Despite this, the group of students illegally gathered and kept shouting that they will attend college with the hijab and won't remove it. This caused a tense situation and hindered the daily functioning of the college,” the FIR stated.

Speaking to TNM, Syeda Saba, a lawyer from Bengaluru said the issue of an FIR being registered against the students of Empress College, Tumakuru is unfortunate. “They don’t mention specific persons against whom the FIR has been registered. It says ‘10-15 unknown girls’. This is an open FIR which could lead to arrest of anybody wearing a hijab who might not have even been there or can be used by the management against the students they dislike,” she added. 

Syeba said it’s absurd that they have filed a complaint against students standing outside their own college asking to be let in, asking for education. “And these are students who are minors. Did the college have a prescribed uniform? Did the CDC (College Development Committee) pass a resolution? Was this resolution made known to the students? In such a situation with so much uncertainty, a complaint against these students is atrocious,” she added.

Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the government will abide by the High Court’s interim order which states that where there is a dress code, it has to be followed, and it is not applicable where it does not exist.

Meanwhile, the state government on Friday, February 18, submitted to the Karnataka High Court that wearing a hijab is not an essential religious practice under Islam and that not permitting it on campuses of educational institutions does not violate Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom to practice and propagate religion. 

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