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Hijab ban: News media loses interest but student protests continue

Experts have time and again pointed out that students are fighting for their rights in a controversy created for political benefit

Sabrangindia 28 Feb 2022

News media
Image Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

Media coverage regarding the hijab row decreased during the weekend following the Karnataka High Court’s February 25, 2022 move to reserve order on pleas against the restrictions on hijab in educational institutions. While this relieves worries of repeat incidents like the one where a media personnel chased a young girl, the reduction in reportage also takes away the attention from protesting young girl students.

Nine Muslim girl students approached the Court when the controversy around hijabs began to spread across the state around early February. Right-wings elements in different universities and later schools demanded that students remove the hijab because “it does not belong in the classroom”. The High Court on its part went through 11 hearings on the matter and passed an interim order that banned religious clothing in colleges that followed CDC guidelines.

Finally on Friday, it asked both sides to wrap up their arguments and reserved its order. With this, the media turned its attention elsewhere. but the protests in the state continued.

Shivmogga

There was palpable tension in the district until recently after the alleged murder of a Bajrang Dal member Harsha. His supporters alleged a communal angle in the matter and the ensuing chaos forced the administrations to close educational institutions until the situation was back in control. However, when schools reopened on February 28, hijab-wearing students were once again barred entry inside college premises.

According to local reports, the DVS college girl students observed a march protest and demanded a meeting with authorities. The continued ban persists at a time when students in the state are soon to face their final year exams.

Mangalore

On the same day as the HC hearing, Mangalore’s Bharat PU college had to declare a holiday when girl students protested outside the premises. The girls demanded that they be allowed entry into the college until after the court judgement. College officials tried to negotiate with the girls but closed the college when the student group refused to listen.

Udupi

On February 24, Udupi’s MGM college cited HC orders and kept girls from entering the campus. In response, the hijab-wearing girls protested outside the area but were told to leave because Section 144 was in place.

This was the same district where the controversy regarding the hijab first began. On February 3, Udupi’s Kundarpura witnessed sit-in protests by Muslim girl students outside their pre-University college to assert their right to wear a hijab on campus. Male students joined in to show their solidarity. The girls even brought copies of school regulations and showed that there was no rule banning headscarves inside classes. Still, their education was hindered so close to finals.

Yadgir

Around the same time that the State’s Minority Welfare department confirmed a ban on religious headscarves in government-run schools, another girl student in Yadgir’s PU college was denied entry in the educational institution. Her brother protested against the decision pointing out that the college in question did not follow CDC guidelines and thus could not cite the HC order. Still the peacefully advocating siblings were denied entry by the Principal and present police authorities.

Vijayapura

On February 16, hijab-wearing students had a stand-off with a college principal in Vijayapura. Despite there being a college WhatsApp group, the students were not informed about the new ban on hijab. They had their exams on the same day.

Mudigere

Even before the school department imposed a ban as per the HC order, a school in Mudigere denied entry to a group of girl students wearing hijab. The students originally were allowed to wear scarves inside premises. However, according to reports, the police department told the principal to keep the students outside the school gate.

Kodagu

In Kodagu’s NelliHudikeri, a school student chose to walk out of her school campus when arbitrarily told to remove her head scarf.

This list does not contain but mentions an incident on February 15 in Shivamogga where a young girl was chased by a local reporter. The girl was visibly alarmed but this fact was ignored as the reporter continued to take photos and videos of the girl who could not enter her school because she was wearing a hijab.

Outside Karnataka

Many other states also reported instances of a hijab-ban although the matters were resolved shortly and kept from flaring up. Madhya Pradesh was the most recent when a mix of various right-wing Hindutva groups assembled outside an autonomous post graduate government college and harassed two hijab-wearing students on February 14. Other areas to report rogue instances were Uttar Pradesh, currently going through elections, Pondicherry and Delhi.

While the media loses its focus on these protests, the girls continue their dissent and lose more time they could have spent studying.

On February 22, activist, educationist and journalist Teesta Setalvad and social scientist and activist Dr. Muniza Khan talked about the implications and origins of the whole controversy. Setalvad said the HC order affected the fundamental rights of education of Muslim girls. The order physically bans hijab-wearing girls from going to school. She questioned the attitude of the state and that of the High Court when there was growing tension in the state. Citing a Hindustan Times analysis report, she said that 61 percent of Indian women cover their head, out of which Muslim women were 89 percent, Sikh women were 86 percent and Hindus are about 59 percent.

Similarly, Dr. Khan said that the current controversy was pushed to an international level to polarise votes in Assembly elections. She said the ripple effect can be seen in UP, especially in Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Gazipur, and Varanasi. As a resident of UP, who is aware of ground realities, she accused the ruling regime of taking this issue to divert people’s attention from major issues of concern such as employment, inflation etc.

Now, by taking away the attention from these girls, the right-wing has allegedly created another controversy only to leave it wholly unresolved as state elections draw to a close.

Related:

Hijab Ban: Identity politics or body policing?
No Hijab in class: Will Puducherry be able to nip the controversy in the bud?
School’s duty to ensure minor girls are not shackled by religious practices: CDC in Hijab ban case
First they came for the hijab, then they came for the turban; what is next on the list?

Hijab ban: News media loses interest but student protests continue

Experts have time and again pointed out that students are fighting for their rights in a controversy created for political benefit

News media
Image Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

Media coverage regarding the hijab row decreased during the weekend following the Karnataka High Court’s February 25, 2022 move to reserve order on pleas against the restrictions on hijab in educational institutions. While this relieves worries of repeat incidents like the one where a media personnel chased a young girl, the reduction in reportage also takes away the attention from protesting young girl students.

Nine Muslim girl students approached the Court when the controversy around hijabs began to spread across the state around early February. Right-wings elements in different universities and later schools demanded that students remove the hijab because “it does not belong in the classroom”. The High Court on its part went through 11 hearings on the matter and passed an interim order that banned religious clothing in colleges that followed CDC guidelines.

Finally on Friday, it asked both sides to wrap up their arguments and reserved its order. With this, the media turned its attention elsewhere. but the protests in the state continued.

Shivmogga

There was palpable tension in the district until recently after the alleged murder of a Bajrang Dal member Harsha. His supporters alleged a communal angle in the matter and the ensuing chaos forced the administrations to close educational institutions until the situation was back in control. However, when schools reopened on February 28, hijab-wearing students were once again barred entry inside college premises.

According to local reports, the DVS college girl students observed a march protest and demanded a meeting with authorities. The continued ban persists at a time when students in the state are soon to face their final year exams.

Mangalore

On the same day as the HC hearing, Mangalore’s Bharat PU college had to declare a holiday when girl students protested outside the premises. The girls demanded that they be allowed entry into the college until after the court judgement. College officials tried to negotiate with the girls but closed the college when the student group refused to listen.

Udupi

On February 24, Udupi’s MGM college cited HC orders and kept girls from entering the campus. In response, the hijab-wearing girls protested outside the area but were told to leave because Section 144 was in place.

This was the same district where the controversy regarding the hijab first began. On February 3, Udupi’s Kundarpura witnessed sit-in protests by Muslim girl students outside their pre-University college to assert their right to wear a hijab on campus. Male students joined in to show their solidarity. The girls even brought copies of school regulations and showed that there was no rule banning headscarves inside classes. Still, their education was hindered so close to finals.

Yadgir

Around the same time that the State’s Minority Welfare department confirmed a ban on religious headscarves in government-run schools, another girl student in Yadgir’s PU college was denied entry in the educational institution. Her brother protested against the decision pointing out that the college in question did not follow CDC guidelines and thus could not cite the HC order. Still the peacefully advocating siblings were denied entry by the Principal and present police authorities.

Vijayapura

On February 16, hijab-wearing students had a stand-off with a college principal in Vijayapura. Despite there being a college WhatsApp group, the students were not informed about the new ban on hijab. They had their exams on the same day.

Mudigere

Even before the school department imposed a ban as per the HC order, a school in Mudigere denied entry to a group of girl students wearing hijab. The students originally were allowed to wear scarves inside premises. However, according to reports, the police department told the principal to keep the students outside the school gate.

Kodagu

In Kodagu’s NelliHudikeri, a school student chose to walk out of her school campus when arbitrarily told to remove her head scarf.

This list does not contain but mentions an incident on February 15 in Shivamogga where a young girl was chased by a local reporter. The girl was visibly alarmed but this fact was ignored as the reporter continued to take photos and videos of the girl who could not enter her school because she was wearing a hijab.

Outside Karnataka

Many other states also reported instances of a hijab-ban although the matters were resolved shortly and kept from flaring up. Madhya Pradesh was the most recent when a mix of various right-wing Hindutva groups assembled outside an autonomous post graduate government college and harassed two hijab-wearing students on February 14. Other areas to report rogue instances were Uttar Pradesh, currently going through elections, Pondicherry and Delhi.

While the media loses its focus on these protests, the girls continue their dissent and lose more time they could have spent studying.

On February 22, activist, educationist and journalist Teesta Setalvad and social scientist and activist Dr. Muniza Khan talked about the implications and origins of the whole controversy. Setalvad said the HC order affected the fundamental rights of education of Muslim girls. The order physically bans hijab-wearing girls from going to school. She questioned the attitude of the state and that of the High Court when there was growing tension in the state. Citing a Hindustan Times analysis report, she said that 61 percent of Indian women cover their head, out of which Muslim women were 89 percent, Sikh women were 86 percent and Hindus are about 59 percent.

Similarly, Dr. Khan said that the current controversy was pushed to an international level to polarise votes in Assembly elections. She said the ripple effect can be seen in UP, especially in Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Gazipur, and Varanasi. As a resident of UP, who is aware of ground realities, she accused the ruling regime of taking this issue to divert people’s attention from major issues of concern such as employment, inflation etc.

Now, by taking away the attention from these girls, the right-wing has allegedly created another controversy only to leave it wholly unresolved as state elections draw to a close.

Related:

Hijab Ban: Identity politics or body policing?
No Hijab in class: Will Puducherry be able to nip the controversy in the bud?
School’s duty to ensure minor girls are not shackled by religious practices: CDC in Hijab ban case
First they came for the hijab, then they came for the turban; what is next on the list?

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