The Government Pre-University College in Karnataka’s Kundapur town on Monday allowed students wearing hijabs or headscarves to enter the campus, ANI reported. However, they were not allowed to attend classes and were instead given permission to protest inside a hall in the college building, according to The Hindu.

An unidentified official of the Udupi district administration told the newspaper that the authorities wanted to prevent the students from protesting outside the college gates. They feared that such protests could lead to an untoward incident, the official said.

The college administration sent the students to a separate classroom citing a government circular, according to News18. However, Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh told reporters that the students had been asked to wear uniform and attend classes, but they chose to sit in a separate classroom to hold protests.

“Law of the land has to be followed...If they have to study, then they must adhere to dress code prescribed by the schools and administration,” Nagesh said, according to ANI.

Additional Superintendent of Police ST Siddalingappa said that the situation is under control in Kundapura, according to ANI. “Students are being allowed to come to the colleges and allowed into the campus by wearing Hijab,” he added. “There is no law and order situation in Kundapur.”

On February 3, the college had barred students wearing hijabs from attending classes.

In a video that was shared widely on social media, the college students were seen pleading with the principal to allow them to attend classes saying their examinations were merely two months away, and questioning why they are being barred for this reason now.

The students were barred a day after about 100 boys affiliated with a Hindutva outfit came to the college wearing saffron shawls to protest against Muslim girls wearing hijabs inside classrooms.

On February 5, the Karnataka government had passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

According to the order, students must wear the dress chosen by the College Development Committee or the appellate committee of the administrative board of pre-university colleges, which come under the pre-university education department.

Controversy continues in other parts of Karnataka: Report

At Kundapur’s Kalavara Varadaraj M Shetty Government First Grade College, the authorities barred students wearing hijabs from entering the premises on Monday too, according to NDTV.

Usha Devi, the vice principal of the college, confirmed that the students had been asked to go home. “We have requested them to wait for the High Court order tomorrow,” she said.

At Shantheshwara PU College and GRB College in Karnataka’s Vijayapura district, several students entered the premises wrapping saffron scarves as a mark of protest against wearing of hijab, according to NDTV.

At a college in Chikkamagaluru, Dalit students, wearing blue scarves, shouted slogans in support of those wearing hijab, Times Now reported.

Meanwhile, the Kundapura Police on Monday arrested two persons for allegedly brandishing weapons at a protest site of students demanding permission to wear hijabs, The Hindu reported.

The arrested persons have been identified as 32-year-old Abdul Majid and 41-year-old Rajab.

The two were among five persons who were carrying sharp weapons during a protest of students of the Government PU College, the police said. Additional Superintendent of Police ST Siddalingappa said that Majid and Rajab were not locals of Kundapur as they live in the nearby village of Gangolli, ANI reported.

Hijab row

On February 4, about 40 female students had protested outside the gates of the Bhandarkar’s Arts and Science Degree College in Kundapur town, Udupi district, after they were denied entry unless they took off their headscarves. About 40 Muslim male students also sat outside the college to express solidarity with their classmates.

A month ago, students at the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi had also protested after the college did not allow them to attend classes while wearing hijabs. Five girls of the college had also approached the Karnataka High Court regarding the issue. The hearing is scheduled for February 8.

On February 5, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had remarked on the incidents saying that the future of Indian daughters was being robbed. “By letting students’ hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India,” Gandhi said in a tweet. “Ma [mother] Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn’t differentiate.”

Bharatiya Janata Party Karnataka President Nalin Kumar Kateel, however, claimed that the state government will not allow the “Talibanisation” of the education system.