As the row over Muslim girl students not being permitted to wear headscarves to several colleges in Karnataka intensifies, hijab-wearing students staged a protest in another private college at Kundapur on Friday, 4 February, after the staff refused to let them in.
Around 40 students protested at the gates of the Bhandarkar's Arts and Science Degree College, following which police were deployed on the campus. Muslim boys studying in the college also joined the protests.
The girls cited the college rulebook, which permits the wearing of the hijab. The rulebook says: "Girl students are permitted to wear the scarf on the campus. However, the colour of the scarf should match the dupatta, and no student is allowed to wear any other cloth inside the campus including the college canteen."
The incident comes a day after Muslim girls wearing hijab were once again stopped from entering Kundapur's Pre-University College on Thursday.
Amid the ongoing row, students of two Karnataka colleges on Wednesday wore saffron scarves as a way of protesting against Muslim girls attending classes wearing hijabs.
The controversy began on 28 December when the government-run PU College in Udupi denied eight Muslim girls entry to classes as they wore a hijab along with their school uniform. After being denied entry several times, the girls began to protest outside the institution's premises.
Speaking on the matter, Congress leader and former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said: "Muslim girls have been wearing the headscarf. It is their fundamental right." He added that the matter was pending in court.
Meanwhile, the state's Minority Commission wrote to the Karnataka Education Department, asking it to revert to the uniform guidelines issued on 1 June 2021 for the academic year 2021-22, saying that the students' religious rights should be respected and that they should be allowed to wear a hijab.
The state government has set up a high-level committee to decide on the wearing of hijab by students in classrooms. Until the report is submitted, the government has asked the students to attend classes in uniform, without wearing a hijab.
A student of the college in Udupi had also approached the Karnataka High Court over the matter.