Hijab row turns violent, colleges shut for 3 days

Govt takes decision as protests spread across state; CM says no one should issue provocative statements

Published: 09th February 2022 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2022 01:23 PM   |  A+A-

Students hoisting the saffron flag in front of the Government First Grade College in Shivamogga on Tuesday

Students hoisting the saffron flag in front of the Government First Grade College in Shivamogga on Tuesday. (Photo | Express)

By Express News Service

BENGALURU : As the hijab row turned violent on Tuesday, the State Government declared a three-day holiday for high schools and colleges. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai appealed to students to maintain peace as the situation threatened to go out of control.

Violence erupted across the state with incidents of stone-throwing, heckling of a girl wearing hijab, hoisting of a saffron flag on college premises, and a large number of students wearing hijabs and saffron shawls taking to streets being reported from many places. The row turned into a law and order situation, even as the Karnataka High Court started hearing petitions challenging college managements’ decision to disallow girls wearing hijab from attending classes.

The violence hit the education system even as it was returning to normal and offline classes had started just a few days ago. The students have taken to the streets at a time when they should be preparing for exams, which are two months away.

In Mandya, students wearing saffron shawls gathered outside colleges in the district raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogans. A hijab-wearing student at PES College in Mandya was heckled by boys, and the college staff had to rush to her rescue. Several girls wearing hijab returned to hostels in fear as students protested outside colleges at Mandya and Pandavapura in the district.

At the Government Degree College at Bapuji Nagar in Shivamogga, miscreants threw stones at students, injuring two of them. A saffron flag was hoisted in the college by students, while the police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. Later, prohibitory orders were imposed in the town. In Harihar, police lobbed teargas shells and lathi-charged protesting students, who were indulging in stone-throwing.

The hijab row that started at a college in Udupi district has quickly spread to most parts of the state, including Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Hubballi, Hassan, Kolar, Kodagu and Kalaburgi. Students wearing hijabs and saffron shawls and groups supporting them resorted to protests. As the situation was getting out of control, many colleges declared holidays even before the government made the announcement. 

Wearing hijab comes under privacy rights, argues counsel

Devadatt Kamat argued that wearing the hijab is essential religious practice as prescribed by the Quran and wearing it comes under privacy rights. As hijab is part of attire, the Government Order mandating uniform partakes the character of right to expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Prescription of uniform is against the protection of religious practice under Article 25. The three judgments of Bombay, Kerala and Madras HCs are not relevant to this case and hence, this cannot be a foundation for the state’s uniform policy. He also said they are not trying to incite any trouble and are quietly practising their faith.

Issue raised in Parliament
Congress MP from Karnataka L Hanumanthaiah raised the hijab row issue in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Speaking during zero hour, he said that Karnataka is facing intense student protests as girls wearing hijab were not allowed to attend classes. Another MP Naseer Hussain supported him. They alleged that the state government failed to control the situation, which was opposed by BJP members.



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