India: Muslim students wearing hijabs kept out of classrooms at college in Karnataka

Jan 17, 2022: According to a report by the Independent, a group of Muslim students at a government college in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have been sitting outside their classrooms listening to lessons for weeks from outside the class after their principal refused to allow them to wear the hijab in class.

Four female students of Udupi Government Women’s College have been camping outside their classrooms since the beginning of the month, alleging that they were not allowed to wear headscarves during class, Indian media outlets reported.

The Press Trust of India quoted Rudra Gowda, principal of the college, as saying that students were allowed to wear hijab on the school premises, but not inside the classrooms, citing college rules.

The television channel Times Now reported that earlier, the parents of four students in a dispute with the college had met with the authorities but no solution had been found for more than a fortnight. According to the channel, the principal said that the college will soon call a meeting with the parents of the women to resolve the issue and explain the rules and regulations of the college.

Yashpal Sovarna, vice-president of the College Development Committee, told the Deccan Herald on Saturday that none of the 150 women from minority communities studying at the college had “made such a demand”.

“The college has its own rules, regulations and disciplinary procedures. The uniform was introduced to offer an egalitarian approach to education, as there are many poor women studying in the college,” Sovrana said.

“They can attend classes if they are willing to follow the rules of the college. If they are not willing to follow the rules, they can find some other college to get an education,” he added.

About 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population are Muslims.

A similar incident occurred earlier this month at another state college. At a government degree college in Koppa, a Hindu student wearing a saffron scarf came to protest against going to class wearing the hijab of his Muslim classmates. Balagadi College allegedly accepted the demands of both classes and allowed students to wear whatever they wanted for a limited number of days.

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