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Karnataka: 231 Muslim students including boys refuse to appear for exams after college authorities ask girls to remove hijab

A tense situation occurred near the campus as nearly 250 students, including Muslim men, began to protest, demanding permission for the women to write the exam wearing the hijab.

At least 231 Muslim students studying at Government PU College in Uppinangady in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka have refused to appear for preparatory exams on Friday after being asked to remove their hijab, reports Times of India.

According to the reports, the college authorities asked the students to adhere to the recent Karnataka high court order that banned religious attire such as hijab or burqa in educational institutions and follow the dress code of educational institutions. On the basis of the HC judgement, the college authorities asked to remove the hijab before entering the college premises.

The deputy director of PU education had also clearly instructed that whoever violates the high court order would not be allowed to appear for the exam. However, the girls refused to remove their hijab, hence the college did not permit them to sit for the exam. The Kannada exam was held on Friday.

A tense situation occurred near the campus as nearly 250 students, including Muslim men, began to protest, demanding permission for the women to write the exam wearing the hijab. The local Muslim leaders tried convincing students to remove the hijab and write exams, but many Muslim students left without appearing for the exam.

College principal Sudhir Kumar said, “As many as 231 second-year PU students, including boys, left without writing the Kannada exam.”

The brazenness of Muslim students to wear hijab to schools comes even as Karnataka High Court, in a significant judgement, had upheld the rights of educational institutions to ban the hijab. In a historic judgement, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday held that hijab is not an essential religious practice and upheld the state government’s order banning the use of any religious attire on the premises of educational institutions.

It stated that schools and colleges have a right to mandate a uniform dress code on their premises.

Despite the order, several Muslim students deliberately violated the High court judgement by wearing hijab, skull cap, etc. Just yesterday, a video had surfaced on social media platforms showing Muslim boys marching to school by wearing a Taqiyah cap (religious skull cap) to violate the uniform rules in the schools of Karnataka.

In the video, it was seen that a teacher from an Urdu School, Raichur, stopped a Muslim boy who was wearing a Taqiyah cap from entering the school premises. The boy was asked to remove the cap before entering the classroom.

Hijab row

The hijab controversy in Karnataka gained momentum since the first week of January after eight Muslim girls were denied entry to classes in a Udupi college because they were wearing hijab. The college authorities had informed that the hijab was not a part of the uniform dress code mandated for the students.

The Muslim girls, adamant about wearing hijab, then filed a petition in High Court seeking permission to attend classes with hijab. They stated that wearing the hijab was their ‘fundamental right’ granted under Articles 14 and 25 of the Indian Constitution and ‘integral practice of Islam’.

The controversy spiralled as Hindu students in Karnataka styled with saffron scarves around their necks and protested against Muslim girls continuing to wear hijab to the college. Tensions also prevailed at some educational institutions in Udupi, Shivamogga, Bagalkote, and other parts, as stones-pelting and violence were reported from various parts of the state.

As reported earlier, the students had begun to wear hijab to schools and colleges after they had met the Campus Front of India (CFI), the student branch of the Islamist organization Popular Front of India (PFI), in October 2021. The students confessed that they had spoken with the CFI.

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