Karnataka: Hindu classmates protest against girl wearing ‘hijab’

College principal said the student in question had an 'ear infection' and thus had to cover her head. "It wasn’t a hijab but some cloth that resembled hijab," he said

The hijab controversy has resurfaced at a private college in Hassan district of Karnataka. In response to a Muslim student wearing hijab in the classroom, her Hindu classmates protested by donning saffron shawls.

According to reports, the incident took place on March 6 at Vidya Soudha College.

In a video, which went viral on social media platforms, a hijab-clad student is seen sitting in a class. The next shot is of her classmates wearing saffron shawls, allegedly in protest.

MS Education Academy

However, the principal dismissed the hijab controversy, saying the student in question had an ‘ear infection’ and thus had to cover her head. “It wasn’t a hijab but some cloth that resembled hijab. The student who wore it said she had an ear problem and hence covered her ear. We held a meeting with the student and parents, and they have agreed they will not repeat it,” the principal said.

Hassan’s block education block officer said that the matter is currently under investigation.

Hijab row under Cong govt

Wearing hijab in classroom was banned by the previous BJP government, resulting in many Muslim female students dropping out of college. However, with Congress forming government in the state, many students are hoping to return to the classes after the hijab ban is revoked.

On December 22 last year, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, while addressing a public gathering in Mysore announced that the Congress government ‘intends’ to withdraw the hijab ban. “We will withdraw the hijab ban. Women can wear hijab and go. I have directed officers to withdraw the ban order. Choice of dress & food is personal. Why should I obstruct? Wear what you want. Eat what you want. I wear a dhoti, you wear a pants and shirt. What’s wrong with that? One mustn’t do politics for votes,” he had said.

However, no official orders have been passed so far. The following day, CM Siddaramaiah retracted his statement by clarifying that “the administration was only contemplating lifting the ban on wearing hijab in educational institutions in the state and a decision will be taken after holding discussions at the government level.”

“We haven’t done it (revoking Hijab ban) yet. Someone asked me a question (about lifting the Hijab ban). I replied that the government is considering revoking it,” he told reporters.

Beginning of Hijab row in Karnataka

The hijab issue began in December 2022, under the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP rule, when six pre-university female students were not allowed inside their classrooms as the administration insisted that they remove their hijab or headscarves.

The issue soon spread like wildfire throughout the state where many government educational institutions started following the procedure and stopped hijab-clad students from entering the premises.

Subsequently, Hindu students dressed up in saffron shawls started protesting against their hijab-clad Muslim classmates. Schools and pre-universities were shut down in order to maintain law and order.

On March 15, the Karnataka high court upheld the decision of the state government stating the hijab is not necessary and students should adhere to the rules of their respective institutions.

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