A total of 58 students were allegedly suspended from a pre-university government college in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district for refusing to remove their hijab and protesting against the institute’s administration, reported PTI on Saturday.

The girls on Friday were allegedly told not to come to the college, a student told reporters. The next day, the students held a protest and demanded their right to wear hijab.

“We came here but the principal told us that we have all been suspended and there is no need for us to come to the college,” a student said. “Even [the] police told us not to come to the college but we came here.”

The principal of the college claimed that the girls have been suspended for allegedly violating the rules of the educational institution.

However, Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner Selvamani R told India Today that the principal was only threatening the students with suspension but no such official orders have been issued.

“Students were getting unruly,” he said. “We told them to wait outside. Kids were coming inside to protest. That time, he [the principal] said verbally, but no suspension orders were issued.”

The school authorities have denied issuing suspension orders, according to The Quint.

Karnataka Minister of Youth Empowerment and Sports Narayana Gowda also claimed that the students have not been suspended.

“It was only to threaten them to go back home and study,” Gowda claimed. “They will be taken back to school.”

Students in Karnataka have been protesting for their right to wear hijab since last month.

The protests started at the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi after six students were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab.

On February 5, the Karnataka government had passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. On February 10, a three-judge bench had barred the students in Karnataka from wearing “religious clothes” in schools and colleges until further orders.

Following the court’s order, several schools in Karnataka have stopped students from attending classes wearing hijab.

Protests across the state

Students have held protests across Karnataka as authorities stopped them from entering the educational institutions while wearing hijab.

In Davangere district’s SJVP College, the students refused to go inside without the headscarf and said that it was as important as education and they cannot give up their rights.

Students of the Vijay Paramedical College in Belagavi district told reporters that the institute declared a holiday for an indefinite period due to the hijab row.

“We will not sit without headscarves,” a student said. “Let the college realise how it affects our education. The principal is not listening to us.”

Protests were also seen in Yadgir, Bellary, Koppal and Chitradurgam district.

In Kudur village of Ramanagara district, some students staged a demonstration on the college ground after they were not allowed to enter the classrooms.

Earlier this month, Hindu students and mobs of men protested against Muslim women wearing hijabs to educational institutes. At some colleges, Muslim students have been heckled, while in another case some men climbed up a flagpole to plant a saffron flag and broke into classrooms.

As tensions escalated, the Karnataka government shut all schools and colleges between February 9 and February 12. The schools till Class 10 were reopened on Monday, while colleges reopened earlier on Wednesday.

Also read:

  1. ‘It’s like taking off clothes in public’: What Indian women say about Karnataka’s hijab ban
  2. Why urbane, educated Muslim women are wearing the hijab in India