On 1 January 2022, six Muslim female students at Government Pre-University College in Karnataka state’s Udupi District accused the principal of not allowing them to attend classes because they were wearing hijabs. They therefore boycotted their lessons and sat outside in protest.
The hijab controversy, which broke out in the Udupi district of India’s Karnataka state in January, has intensified as more Muslim students studying in other colleges have been forbidden to enter the classrooms wearing their traditional headscarves.Hindu students began wearing saffron shawls as a mark of protest against their Hijab-clad classmates.The latest incident took place on World Hijab Day (1 February), when six students of the Government Pre-University College for Girls in Udupi were denied entry into the classroom because they were wearing the hijab.
In a way to protest against Muslim headscarves, a group of Hindu students turned up at Kundapur Pre-University College, also in Udupi, wearing saffron shawls and scarves. A video of it has gone viral on the internet.
The “hijab versus saffron shawl” controversy escalated over the succeeding days in several other colleges, giving the colleges’ administrators a tough time.In a recent viral video, 27 Muslim girls of Kundapur Pre-University College can be seen asking their principal to let them attend classes ahead of their exams that fall in two months.
Several other colleges in the state have faced similar situations over wearing the hijab, including Bhandarkars’ College of Kundapur and Sir M Vishweshwaraiah Government Arts and Commerce College in Bhadravathi in Shimoga district. Ever since state education minister, Bellur Chandrashekharaiah Nagesh, directed college authorities only to allow those students who were dressed in uniforms, administrators have denied entry to those wearing the hijab or saffron shawls. Jagadish Karanth, a leading member of Hindu activist group, Hindu Jagarana Vedike, has said that Hindu students are ready to stop wearing saffron shawls in college if Muslim girls throw off their hijab.
On Thursday, a petition was filed in Karnataka High Court seeking to permit students to attend classes wearing the hijab without any interference from college administrators.The state government has convened a high-level committee to decide on whether the wearing of hijab by students in classrooms should be allowed.