Controversy in India as Hijabi Students Barred From Classes

On Monday, January 17th, six students were denied entry into their classroom for wearing the hijab. The incident happened at the Government Women's PU college in Udupi, Karnataka, India. A Twitter post showing the six girls outside their classroom is going viral.

According to the Hindustan Gazette, the girls were not allowed to join their class starting December 31st, 2021. They were marked as absent for the entire duration. The students said they were also not permitted to speak Urdu or Beary languages and were prohibited from speaking Arabic. One of the girls has reportedly gotten sick because of the stress from the ongoing incident.

Yashpal Suvarna, vice president of the College Development Committee, explained that the school only enforces its regulations and disciplinary procedures. Suvarna clarified that the girls violated the school's uniform policy. "The uniform was introduced to offer an egalitarian approach to education, as there are many poor women studying in the college," he added.

Suvarna deflected the issue towards the girls who insisted on wearing hijab inside the classroom, claiming that they intended to cause trouble. He said more than 150 female students belonged to minority communities, but "none of them have raised any demands."

The school also feared that requests for saying Namaz inside the classroom would happen next if they allowed the hijab.

"They can attend classes if they are willing to follow the rules of the college," Suvarna added.

Nasir Pasha, the state general secretary of PFI (Popular Front India), condemned the school's action. Pasha said that the school is taking away the students' constitutional rights that guarantee religious freedom. "Hindu students wear a bindi, and Christian nuns wear a headdress, Muslim students should be allowed to wear a scarf over their head," Pasha explained.

Campus Front of India, the organization to which the six students belong, and the Girls Islamic Organization attempted to resolve the issue with the college authorities and district collector.

Rudra Gowda, the school's principal, has declined to discuss the matter.

During a previous meeting with students and parents, K. Raghupati Bhat, Chairman of the College Development Committee, explained that the school's uniform policy had had no issues with other students from different communities.

Bhat also asked the parents not to bring religion into college affairs. "If their parents are not agreeable to the uniform code, they are open to opt" to another school. Bhat added.

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