Lone girl in burqa heckled by saffron-clad students in Mandya, walks away with dignity

The incident was reported from PES College in Mandya.
Lone girl in burqa heckled by saffron-clad students in Mandya, walks away with dignity
Lone girl in burqa heckled by saffron-clad students in Mandya, walks away with dignity
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As the Karnataka hijab row continues to make headlines, a disturbing video of a solitary student in a burqa being heckled by a group of saffron shawl clad students has come to the fore. Videos of the incident, which happened in the state’s Mandya district, that were aired on regional TV channels start with the student arriving at PES College in her two-wheeler on the morning of February 8, Tuesday.

The video shows the woman parking her vehicle and walking towards the college building when she is approached by a big group of male students waving the saffron flags around their necks and shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans. In response, she is seen shouting, “Allah hu Akbar” when the group starts following her. She tells some reporters present there that she has the right to wear the burqa. She questioned, “What right do they have to tell me to get rid of my burqa?”

Even as she speaks to the reporters, the group of men get very close to her and try to drown out her voice by yelling ‘Jai Shri Ram’. She is then seen being guided by the college management inside the college building to safeguard her from the crowd of saffron-clad men who were shouting and trying to intimidate her.

This is not an isolated incident, with tensions running high in college campuses in many districts in the state regarding the issue of girl students wearing the hijab and students affiliated to Hindu hard-line groups wearing saffron shawls. Students affiliated to Ambedkarite organisations have started coming to college wearing blue shawls to counter the saffron shawls. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday ordered that high schools and colleges in the state will be closed for the next three days.

Before this, the state government passed an order barring the wearing of hijab or saffron shawls until the Karnataka High Court passes an order on the matter. In an interim order on Tuesday, the HC asked the student and the public at large to maintain peace.

Meanwhile, BJP MPs and MLAs like Pratap Simha and Basangouda Patil Yatnal have made controversial statements. Yatnal said that those wanting to wear the hijab should go to Pakistan while Simha said that those seeking to wear the hijab should only study in madrasas.

In one of the other incidents of minor violence, scores of saffron shawl clad men raised slogans against Muslim students wearing the hijab at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) College in Udupi. The incident was quelled by the college management before it worsened. There were reports of multiple incidents of stone-pelting across colleges in the state in districts like Shivamogga and Bagalkot among others.

Read TNM’s ground report on that incident here.

This present row over hijab-wearing in colleges started in December 2021 when a small group of students in Udupi’s Women PU College were not allowed to attend classes. The students claim that until then they never faced any issue over wearing the headscarf.

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