At least three Muslim girls were not allowed to attend classes at a government-run women’s college in the Udupi district of India’s Karnataka state for wearing headscarves.
According to reports, a total of six Muslim students at the college have since last month been forced to sit outside their classrooms because the administration alleges they are “defying the rules” by wearing a hijab, which is not a part of the uniform.
A video of the students sitting on the steps outside their classroom has also gone viral on social media.
Standoff continues at #Udupi girls college over the #HijabisOurRight issue. 4 Students still not being allowed to enter class.Principal Rudre Gowda has called for parents meet next week. Says rules need to be followed. No exception.@CampusFrontInd has supported these students. pic.twitter.com/VnxgMjBw1h
— Imran Khan (@KeypadGuerilla) January 15, 2022
The girls told a foreign news agency that the Hijab was a “part of their faith” and practicing it was “their right guaranteed under the law”.
They have maintained a defiant stance even as the administration allegedly uses “pressure tactics” to coerce them to give in.
The girls have been marked absent from their classes since December 31 even as they say they are going to college every day. “We are not going to budge, no way,” said Aliya Assadi.
Their protest has riled up the college administration which, according to the group, forced them to write a letter accepting they missed the classes by staying home on their own.
The students say they are worried about the minimum attendance percentage that is required to be able to sit the annual exams.
While the hijab ban has sparked outrage across the country, with student and rights groups accusing the college administration of bias against the Muslim minority, students in at least two other colleges in the state, including members of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, are holding protests donning saffron scarves inside the colleges, demanding a ban on headscarves.
Meanwhile, a local lawyers’ association has written to the state government, demanding an investigation against the college administration and teachers for “harassing” the students.