Students wearing hijab at Udupi govt college made to sit in separate room

Boys tried to enter college wearing saffron shawls at the Venkataramana PUC, and female students at MGM College were told to remove the hijab before entering class on Feb 8.
Students wearing hijab outside government pre-university college in Kundapur
Students wearing hijab outside government pre-university college in Kundapur
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The standoff in colleges in Karnataka’s Udupi district over the hijab continued on Monday, February 7, as the Government PU college in Kundapur allowed students wearing hijabs to enter the campus, but made them sit in a separate room, and did not allow them to attend classes. College officials said that students were allowed to enter the campus in order to avoid crowding outside the gates. The college principal told the students that as per the Karnataka government’s orders, a uniform is a must and the students could attend classes only after they removed the hijab.

“They let us sit in one classroom and allowed us to go to the washroom,” said one of the students who added that they were not allowed to attend classes. “We were asked to give our signatures, we only gave our names to record attendance,” the student added. She further said that all the girls were asked to give their parents' contact numbers. The students said that the school officials called their parents and told them that the students can only come to college after the High Court hearing takes place. Karnataka High Court is set to hear a plea filed by a student who was denied entry into college because she was wearing a hijab. The court will hearing a writ petition on Tuesday, February 8. The students have said that they will not go to class without their hijab and will wait for the order to come. 

Meanwhile, another institute in Kundapur saw a group of around 25-30 boys showing up to college wearing saffron shawls. Some students of the Venkataramana Pre-University College were seen staging a protest, shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as they made their way to the college. According to reports, the boys said that they would continue their protest if the college allowed students wearing hijabs to enter. However, the boys in saffron shawls were also stopped from entering the college by the principal, after which they agreed to remove the shawls and were allowed to attend classes. “As soon as we told them to take off the shawl, they did that and attended classes,” Ganesh Mogaveera, the college’s principal, told TNM.

He added that of the 60-odd female Muslims students in the college out of a total strength of 1,200, the girls have not worn the hijab to school so far. “In our college, 25-30 students wore the saffron shawl and came to the college today. We didn't have any students wearing the hijab, today or before. Those wearing the shawl said they wore it after seeing on social media the protests in other Kundapur colleges,” he said. 

“It is a surprising development in Kundapur. I've lived here all my life and this is the first time I'm seeing this much turbulence. We want to remind students this is a crucial phase in their life. They are studying to be in good undergraduate courses,” he added. 

In another incident, Hindu students at the MGM College in Udupi allegedly demanded that Muslim girl students remove their hijab, quoting the Karnataka government order which said that status quo should remain, and a uniform style of clothing must be worn, and students must not disturb equality, integrity and public law and order.

The college principal held a meeting with the groups and asked the students to remove the hijab before entering class on Tuesday, February 8. The students — organised through the Hindu Jagarana Vedike — have said they will wear the saffron shawl, dhoti and rudraksha beads if the Muslim grils don’t remove their hijab.  

The RN Shetty Composite PU College, one of the colleges where girls wearing the hijab were barred, declared a holiday for Monday, February 7, and is waiting for the Karnataka High Court to hear the matter on February 8.

A tense situation prevailed in Kundapur as the protest over the hijab started up in more colleges. Last week, authorities of the Government PU College there shut the gates on students who were wearing the hijab, even as they maintained that they have been wearing hijab to class for years. The students protested outside the college gates for a week, urging authorities to let them attend classes as their exams are just two months away. 

Two other private colleges in Kundapur — Bhandarkars’ Arts and Science College and Dr BB Hegde First Grade College — also barred hijab-clad students from entry. The Bhandarkars’ College barred students despite their rulebook allowing students to wear the headscarf, and states that the scarf should be the colour of the dupatta. 

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