Several colleges in Karnataka on Wednesday denied entry to Muslims students wearing hijabs and burqas, leading to protests in some places, PTI reported. Pre-university and degree colleges reopened after being shut for a week as the demonstrations over dress code took a violent turn on some campuses.

Many students in the districts of Vijayapura, Bijapur, Kalaburagi, Shivamogga and Yadgir refused to take off their hijabs, due to which they were not allowed to enter their colleges on Wednesday.

A student at the DVS College at Shivamogga said that girls wearing hijabs and burqas were not allowed to enter the campus even though a test was to be held. “For us, practising our faith is as much important as education and Burqa is part of our faith,” she said, according to PTI.

At Vijayapura, the Government Pre-University College barred the entry of hijab-wearing students, although the garment was earlier permitted, NDTV reported. College authorities said that they were following the directives of the Karnataka High Court, which told students not to wear “religious clothes” in educational institutions till further orders.

Visuals by The Quint showed students wearing hijabs standing outside the college gate and speaking to reporters.

Several students protested the college’s stand and raised slogans of “we want justice”. Subsequently, the college allotted a separate space for the students inside the campus to take off their hijabs and enter their classrooms.

Meanwhile, at the Sagara Government Pre-University College in Shivamogga, authorities announced a holiday for the day after tensions rose.

Hijab-wearing students at the G Shankar Government Women’s College in the Udupi district were taken to the principal’s office, The News Minute reported. Some of the students decided to leave the campus and wait for the High Court’s orders.

Students at the Pre-University College in Karnataka’s Davangere also went back to their homes after they were denied entry.

No hijab ban at degree colleges: CM

As colleges barred students from entering the campus wearing hijab on Wednesday, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai clarified that the High Court’s order did not apply to degree colleges in the state, reported The Indian Express.

“The High Court order will not be followed in all colleges,” Bommai said in the state Assembly. “High Court has said only colleges where uniforms are prescribed, a ban will apply.”

The chief minister’s response came in response to a question raised in the Assembly by Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah during Zero Hour. The Congress leader had asked for clarification on a statement made by Higher Education Minister CN Ashwathnarayan that the High Court’s order would not apply to degree colleges.

In its order, the High Court had restrained “all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls [Bhagwa] scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders.”

It had also added that the order “is confined to such institutions wherein the College Development Committees have prescribed the student dress code/uniform.”

Ban on hijabs in colleges

Many Muslim students in Karnataka have been agitating throughout the past month after they were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijabs. On February 5, the Karnataka government had passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

Following the High Court order on February 10, several schools in Karnataka have stopped students from attending classes wearing hijab. Earlier this week, videos showed women being told to take off their hijabs and burqas at the gates of educational institutions, prompting condemnation on social media.

Last week, Hindu students and mobs of men protested against Muslim women wearing hijabs to educational institutes at several places in Karnataka. At some colleges, Muslim students were heckled, while in another case, some men climbed up a flagpole to plant a saffron flag and broke into classrooms.

Also read:

  1. Hijab ban: All religions have symbols, why are headscarves being targeted, petitioners ask in court
  2. Karnataka’s saffron scarf protests against the hijab aren’t new. A college in Koppa saw one in 2018