Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has tweeted about the controversy over Muslim students’ demands to wear the hijab in classrooms at a university in Karnataka.
On the occasion of Saraswati Puja, Mr Gandhi alluded to the university authorities’ decision not to allow the wearing of the hijab in the classroom, tweeting “we are robbing the future of the daughters of India”.
“By letting students’ hijab get in the way of their education, we’re robbing the future of the daughters of India. Ma Saraswati educates everyone. She doesn’t discriminate,” said the congress leader.
By letting students’ hijab get in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India.
Ma Saraswati imparts knowledge to everyone. She makes no distinction. #SaraswatiPuja
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 5, 2022
About 40 female students wearing the hijab protested at the gate of Bhandarkars Arts and Science Degree College in Kundapur, a coastal town in Udupi in Karnataka. The staff had refused to let them in unless they had taken off their headscarves. They missed their classes for the second day on Friday.
The college has an instruction manual that says, “Girls may wear the scarf on campus, but the color of the scarf must match the dupatta, and no student is allowed to wear any other clothing on campus, including the university cafeteria”.
The director, Narayan Shetty, said he wanted to maintain harmony on campus. “I am a government official. I will have to follow all government instructions. I have been told that some students will enter the college wearing saffron shawls, and if harmony is disturbed in the name of religion, the principal will be held accountable, ” he said.
The government of Karnataka allows state schools to establish their own guidelines in this area. Some government colleges allow Muslim students to wear the hijab or headscarf on campus. But there is ambiguity about whether they can wear it in class. The students pointed out that there are no guidelines for these and that they can be worn in class.
On Thursday, another university in Kundapur saw identical scenes when a group of girls in hijab stood outside its gates for six hours. The Junior PU Government College had allowed hijabs in the classroom until two days ago, the girls complained.
The hijab protests started weeks ago at the Government Girls PU College in Udupi district, when six students claimed they had been banned from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf.