Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh on Wednesday defended the mob that heckled a Muslim student on Tuesday at her college in Mandya district, reported ANI.

“The students didn’t want to gherao the girl who was coming outside the college in Mandya,” Nagesh told reporters.

In a video shared widely on Wednesday, a mob of men wearing saffron scarves could be seen heckling the girl as she enters the college. The mob is seen charging towards her, shouting “Jai Shree Ram” (victory to deity Ram). As the crowd approaches, the woman retorts by shouting “Allah-hu-Akbar”, which means “Allah is the greatest”.

The incident took place amid the controversy about some colleges in Karnataka stopping women from attending classes for being dressed in hijabs.

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Nagesh questioned why the woman got provoked to shout “Allah-hu-Akbar” when “no other student was around her”. However, in the video, it could be seen that the mob was chasing her and shouting slogans at her face.

The minister did not directly condemn the mob, but just said: “Can’t encourage ‘Allah hu Akbar’ or ‘Jai Shri Ram’ on campus”.

Following Tuesday’s incident, the woman had told NDTV that while she could identify about 10% of the men in the mob as students of the college, others seemed to be outsiders.

“The hijab is a part of us,” she told the news channel. “The principal never said anything. Outsiders have started this. The principal has advised us not to carry the burqa. We will continue to protest for the hijab. It is just a part of being a Muslim girl.”

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Police on Wednesday banned gatherings, agitations or any other forms of protest within 200 meters of educational institutions. The order will remain in effect for two weeks.

On Tuesday, the Karnataka government had announced that all high schools and colleges in the state will remain shut for three days between February 9 and February 11. This was after videos from at some colleges showed groups of men wearing saffron scarves protesting against women wearing hijabs.

Also read:

  1. Hijab row: Constitution gives women right to wear what they want, says Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
  2. The Karnataka campaign isn’t just about the hijab – it’s mainly about showing Muslims their place