Section 144, protests and stone-pelting: 10 developments in Karnataka hijab row

Sporadic violence, a three-day holiday and an appeal by the High Court — here are 10 developments from Karnataka over the hijab row.
Karnataka hijab row: Activists in support of students wearing hijab stage a protest
Karnataka hijab row: Activists in support of students wearing hijab stage a protest
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The hijab row in Karnataka saw a major escalation on Tuesday, February 8, as protests broke out in many districts, leading to sporadic violence, prompting authorities to impose prohibitory orders. The Karnataka government has declared a three-day holiday for high schools and colleges across the state. All this was happening while the Karnataka High Court heard a batch of pleas opposing the hijab ban in classrooms. Here are ten developments on the ongoing Karnataka hijab row: 

1. Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai has ordered closure of all high schools and colleges on February 9, 10 and 11. A government order on the same will be issued, the education department has said. Karnataka Home minister Araga Jnanendra, Higher Education Minister Ashwathnarayan CN and Primary Education minister B Nagesh will meet today to discuss the issue.

2. The Karnataka government has, meanwhile, blamed the SDPI for the controversy. “SDPI-backed Campus Front of India is behind it. Complete details will be known after investigation. Law and order must be maintained in the state,” BC Nagesh, Karnataka Primary & Secondary Education Minister said.

3. Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court heard a batch of pleas by Muslim students against the hijab ban in classrooms. The petitioners’ counsel submitted to the court that wearing hijab is an essential religious practice and that the Karnataka government had no jurisdiction to impose an order mandating uniforms. The court, which will continue to hear the case on Wednesday, February 9, has asked people to maintain peace and calm after incidents of violence were reported from parts of the state. 

4. Section 144 was imposed in parts of Shivamogga city after a group of saffron-clad students hoisted a saffron flag at the Government First Grade College. Visuals of the incident from the college located in Shivamogga city’s Bapujinagar show a sea of students wearing saffron shawls and protesting the hijab row, while cheering on a student who climbs up a flagpole and hoists the saffron flag. ​​Instances of stone pelting were also reported in Shivamogga city, which led the police to carry out a lathicharge against the protesters

5. In Bagalkot district’s Banhatti, there was a skirmish at the Government Pre University College, where a group of saffron shawl-clad students stood in protest against students wearing hijabs and entering the college building. This led to an altercation and the two groups started throwing stones. District Superintendent of Police Lokesh Jagalasar said that the students dispersed after the police intervened. He also said that both parties submitted a memorandum with their demands to the college, and agreed not to indulge in violence. 

6. In Davanagere district, the police fired teargas shells and carried out a baton charge to quell the violent mob in the Harihar First Grade College campus. Section 144 has been imposed there as well. According to reports, the trouble started when a group of people came to the college in support of the hijab. The group got into an argument with the students wearing saffron shawls and soon the situation turned violent.

7. Protests erupted at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College in Udupi after a large group of students wearing saffron stoles and headgears raised slogans in the college campus at hijab-clad Muslim girls. The students- both men and women- shouted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ at the Muslin students and told the college management that they will not allow classes to function if students were allowed in hijabs. 

8. A lone burqa-clad student was heckled by a large group of saffron-clad protesters in PES College in Mandya. The student was booed at and protesters shouted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans at her. The student however was steadfast and told the cameras following her that wearing the hijab and burqa was her choice. 

9. Two more girl students have moved the Karnataka High Court saying that wearing the hijab is their fundamental right. Suha Maulana and Aisha Aleefa, BBA students at the Bhandarkar's arts and science college, have told the court that their college stopped them from entering upon instructions from the Kundapur BJP MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty.

10. A student was stabbed in Sundaram Nagar college in Karnataka’s Kushalanagar district allegedly after he resisted wearing a saffron scarf to protest against the hijab. The student Sandeep suffered stab injuries in his shoulders and back and has been admitted to hospital. Two students have been held in connection with the incident and the police are probing the issue. 

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