Political and social activists in Puducherry on Tuesday approached local authorities against a government school headmaster who allegedly asked a Muslim student not to wear a hijab and burqa on the premises, The New Indian Express reported.

The development comes amid a snowballing controversy in Karnataka, where Muslim students wearing hijabs are not being allowed to attend classes.

In Puducherry, the political and social activists have sent a petition to Director of Education PT Rudra Goud seeking action against the headmaster who allegedly objected to the Muslim student wearing the hijab and burqa in school.

The girl reportedly studies in Class 9 at the Government High School in the Ariyankuppam town. Her father Iqbal Basha said that she would earlier go to school wearing the hijab and burqa, and remove the burqa on reaching the school, according to The New Indian Express. Basha is the Organiser (South) of the Social Democratic Party of India.

While a hijab covers a person’s head and neck, a burqa typically covers the face.

Goud said that he got to know about the matter only recently and has asked the chief education officer to conduct an inquiry. He added that the administration has not issued any orders banning hijabs in schools.

The official, however, said that the education department will formulate guidelines on a dress code for schools. “Now someone is coming wearing burqa, tomorrow some other student may come wearing saffron robes or shawls,” he added.

On Monday, members of the Students Federation of India, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam and a functionary of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam named Mohan visited the school to inquire about the matter, India Today reported.

Controversy in Karnataka

In Karnataka, confrontations between groups of students on the wearing of the hijab began after Muslim girls at the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi were stopped from attending classes if they wore headscarves. Protests on the matter have now spread to a large number of colleges in the state.

Amid the standoff, the Karnataka government on Tuesday announced that all high schools and colleges in the state will remain shut for three days between February 9 and February 11.

The Karnataka High Court also began hearing petitions challenging the legality of the ban on Tuesday, but adjourned the matter without passing any order.