UDUPI/ BENGALURU: The controversy over eight students of the Women's Government PU College, Udupi, who have been insisting on wearing headscarves inside the classroom, is refusing to die down.
On Thursday, the students stood outside their college gate displaying placards, seeking justice. "It is our fundamental right to wear the hijab and the college authorities should not stop us," declared Hazra, one of the students. The girls said they have not been allowed to attend classes since December 31.
In Bengaluru, Primary and Secondary Education minister BC Nagesh termed the entire episode as political. Stressing that schools and colleges are not the place to practice religion, he asked the students to adhere to rules regarding the uniform for students, which have been followed since 1985.
"There are over a hundred Muslim children studying in the institution who have no problems. Only these few students are choosing to protest. Schools and colleges should not turn into religious centres," he said. He also went on to say that wearing hijab in the classroom would amount to indiscipline as other students may expect similar concessions.
Official holds discussion with students
Both the minister as well as college administration maintain that the move is to ensure uniformity amongst students as well as for purposes of identity. However, the students say that it’s a violation of their rights and they had been facing similar discrimination as they had not been allowed to speak in Urdu or Beary as well. For the past three weeks, these students are not being allowed inside the classrooms and are being marked absent.
They have been coming to college, but wait outside the classroom as they have not been given permission to attend classes with the hijab on.
Reacting to the issue, Prof Varadesh Hiregange, Director, Gandhian Centre for Philosophical Arts and Sciences, MAHE, Manipal, felt that as long as the face of the student is visible, wearing hijab should not be considered as going against the rules on uniforms.
"Hijab might be a religious compulsion, so it is not correct to intrude into one's religious faith. Also, there are many such other faiths, like how Sikhs wear turbans. The issue should be looked at from such a perspective as the hijab does not go against the uniform rule," he added.
Meanwhile, based on the directive of Udupi Deputy Commissioner Kurma Rao M, Kundapura sub-division Assistant Commissioner Raju arrived at the college on Wednesday and held meetings with the DDPU Maruthi and college principal Rudra Gauda. The AC also held talks with the college development committee members and the protesting students.