Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/state/karnataka-districts/karnataka-college-in-a-bind-as-students-sport-saffron-scarves-protesting-hijab-inside-classroom-1067922.html
Finding itself between a rock and a hard place, a state-run college in Balagadi village of Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru district banned hijabs and saffron scarves on-campus on January 12, 2022, to resolve persisting conflict between students of Muslim and Hindu communities, reported the Indian Express.
Trouble began in December 2021, when Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members staged a protest wearing saffron scarves and demanded that their Muslim classmates stop wearing hijab during classes. They referred to the eight girls in the degree college out of a total of 850 students. Visuals were shared of the group sitting at the entrance gate, raising slogans against the dress code. While government colleges do not have a dress code, this is the only college that follows a uniform code.
Initially, authorities conceded to the demand and barred the girls from entering the college. However, the girls in question protested against the decision and, with the help of Muslim organisations Campus Front of India (CFI) and Girls Islamic Organisation (GIO), approached Udupi Deputy Commissioner Kurma Rao.
They argued that the ban on hijab was a violation of their constitutional right to practice the religion of their choice. In response, the ABVP claimed that educational institutions should be kept away from religious practices.
Finally, the college called a parent-teacher meeting where officials were also invited. There, they resolved to ban both hijabs and scarves although the girls may wear a shawl to cover their heads. This is the second time the college has faced such an issue since 2018. One fourth of the college’s students are Muslim, and therefore, the principal hoped to settle the matter there.
However, news about the incident already spread in the state and on social media by then.
— JAVED KHAN (@JAVEDKH15562252) January 2, 2022
Two weeks after the first protest, ABVP members in Pompei College of Mangaluru also wore saffron scarves inside college premises on January 6 to protest Muslim girl students who wear the hijab inside the college. The matter was resolved when leaders of the two communities agreed to adhere to uniform code, said The News Minute.
Yet, Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh defended the actions of the ABVP students stating, “We cannot disrupt discipline because 6-8 students decided to wear the hijab,” reported TNM.
The Minister also backed the decision backing the uniform dress code reasoning that the uniform will create a “good atmosphere” in schools and “ensure there is no inferiority complex.”