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Hijab vs saffron protest erupts at Karnataka college ahead of HC hearing

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Udupi: Demonstrations have intensified in Udupi, Karnataka before the High Court hearing on the Hijab controversy. Protests broke out between students wearing saffron shawls and hijab outside a college in Karnataka. The students were heard shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram. Officials struggle to control the crowd outside the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College campus.

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Students wearing saffron, who were already in the college, shouted slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” while the college administration looked on.

Young women in hijab alleged that they were pushed out of the gates and protested what they alleged was discrimination by the college.

“Why are we not being allowed inside? They are wearing saffron scarves only now. We have been wearing the hijab since childhood. They pushed us out of the college gates,” said a young woman in hijab.

As the situation threatened to escalate, the college staff tried to herd the saffron-wearing group outside the gates.

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The hijab versus saffron scarves on campus clash has taken hold of many colleges in Karnataka. Some colleges declared a holiday yesterday to avoid communal trouble while another college allowed students wearing the hijab in separate classrooms.

“All the concerned people should keep the peace and let children study. The matter will be presented in High Court today, let’s wait for it,” Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters.

The High Court will hear petitions filed by five women from a government college in Udupi, questioning hijab restrictions.

The hijab protests began last month at the Government Girls PU college in Udupi when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf. Right-wing groups in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru objected to Muslim girls wearing the hijab to class.

The protests spread to more colleges in Udupi and beyond, with staff banning the hijab and many students taking a confrontational position by showing up in saffron scarves and shouting slogans.

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On Saturday, the state’s BJP government banned clothes which it said “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

“In the event of the administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn,” the order said.

“The education department has noticed that in some education institutions, the boys and girls have started behaving according to their religion, which hurts the equality and unity,” it added.

The row has taken a political turn with the state’s opposition Congress alleging that rightwing groups are exploiting and instigating the protests.

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