Following the hijab ban in Udupi college, another college, Government Pre-University College in Kundapura, some 40 km away from Udupi, has also banned hijab-clad Muslim students from attending classes on Thursday.
However, unlike the college in Udupi, girls in Kundapura were not even permitted inside the campus.
“We’re only 2 months away from our exam and our syllabus hasn’t been completed yet. If they don’t allow us to sit in the classes, our future may get disturbed and the principal will be the sole reason for this,” one of the Muslim girl students who were singled out for wearing hijab said to Maktoob.
“Since the college has started it has allowed Muslim girls to wear the headscarves and they can’t stop us now from wearing the headscarves,” she said.
On Wednesday, a group of boys affiliated with a Hindutva outfit came wearing saffron shawls and protested chanting Jai Shree Ram inside the campus. However, they were allowed inside the classrooms, as they removed saffron scarves before entering classrooms.
Following the saffron protest, a parent-teacher meeting was held for Muslim girl students alone on Wednesday, and they were directed not to wear any “religious dress” to campus from the next day. Though parents and students protested, it was not given any heed.
Students who came with headscarves on Thursday were picked from classrooms and were sent outside the campus. In a video that has been shared widely, girls can be seen pleading the principal to permit them in. Students can also be seen sharing their concerns of nearing exams just two months away.
The principal said he was following the directions of Kundapur MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty.
“Girls stood outside the gate till evening. They were not even permitted to use washrooms,” Tharim, another student said to Maktoob.
“For years, Muslim girls have studied in the Kundapura college wearing headscarves. One can see them for themselves in earlier class photographs. However, situations are shockingly changing as even two other private colleges in Kundapura are also following the same hijab ban,” said Tarim.
Dr. B.B Hegde College and Bhandarkars Art and Science College are also restricting students with headscarves. But since they are private colleges, media attention has been low.
Many student groups including the Campus Front of India and the National Student Union of India have expressed their solidarity to the Muslim students of Kundapura Government PU College Kundapura, condeming the Islamophobic ban.
“It’s been a strength of India that everyone is free to wear what they want. If the hijab is disallowed, then what about the Sikh turban, The Hindu’s forehead mark? The Christians Crucifix? This college is going down a slippery slope. Let the girls in. Let them study. Let THEM decide,” read a tweet by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor MP.
“Beti bachao beti parhao is yet another hollow slogan. Muslim girls are being denied the right to education simply because of their attire. Legitimising the marginalisation of Muslims is one more step towards converting Gandhi’s India into Godhse’s India,” said former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
“There is no ethical or legal justification for suddenly asking these young girls to change what they deem as part of their identity. This is religious persecution. Democratic forces should come forward to support them,” said OMA Salam, chairman of Popular Front of India.
“For a teacher to stand as a mute spectator when his students are crying to be allowed into the premises. This is not apartheid ? Are women in hijab a threat while yogis in constitutional offices proudly flaunt saffron robes. Her body, her agency, her choice,” asks award-winning journalist Rana Ayyub.
While Resham Farooq, a student of Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi college had petitioned the High Court on the protection of her fundamental right, Resham and her college mates continue to be marked absent for nearly a month, as they are not allowed inside the classroom.
With additional reporting by Abdur Razik Basrur