A group of Muslim girls staged a protest in front of a government college in Udupi district of Karnataka on Thursday (January 20) when they failed to get permission to wear a hijab during classes.
The confrontation between the government college and the group of students has continued since the last week of December with the protesting students arguing that such a diktat violates their fundamental right. The college management, on its part, has told the students that they either accept the dress code or go home.
“We’ve been barred for 20 days for wearing hijab. We want justice,” Resham, one of the protesting students, told NDTV.
The students argued that if the Constitution doesn’t stop them from wearing a hijab, why is the college stopping them?
Aliya Assadi, one of the six students barred from entering the class for insisting on wearing a hijab, said, “We are still sitting outside the class. We are not allowed to go inside the classroom. One day, we had gone inside the classroom, but the teacher’s response was, ‘If you don’t go out of the class, I will push you out.”
Rudra Gowda, the principal of the college, said girls can wear headscarves on the college campus but not in the classroom. “This is necessary to maintain uniformity in the classroom,” Gowda said.
Karnataka Education Minister BC Nagesh said the Campus Front of India is politicising the issue. “The dress code rules have been there since 1985 and these protests only erupted 15-20 days ago,” he said. “Over 100 Muslim students enrolled at this college had no issue but just a handful of them do not want to follow the dress code… School is not a place to practice dharma,” the minister said.
Aliya Assadi said they were not influenced by Campus Front of India. “We are not a part of them. Since we did not get a positive response (or) any support, we approached CFI,” Aliya told NDTV.
Aliya also complained of religious discrimination in the college. “We can’t say ‘salaam’… can’t talk in Urdu even though it is a government college. Other students are allowed to speak in Tulu (a local language)… lecturers speak to us in Tulu. But we are not allowed to speak in Urdu,” she said.