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Hijab row: Students seek transfer certificate from Karnataka college

They have told us that they are moving to other colleges where head scarf is allowed: Principal
Muslim girls protest against hijab ban.
Muslim girls protest against hijab ban.
File photo

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore   |   Published 21.06.22, 02:19 AM

Five students have informed a college in Mangalore that they would apply for transfer certificates for not being allowed to wear the hijab in classrooms, as the issue lingers on in Karnataka that has prohibited students from wearing the headscarf.

The principal of University College, Mangalore, Anasuya Rai, told The Telegraph on Monday that five students had “verbally” informed her that they were moving to institutions where the hijab was permitted.

“They informed us verbally that they would be applying for transfer certificates since we don’t allow the hijab in classrooms. But since classes are online even now, they haven’t yet come to the institution to apply for the transfer certificates,” said Rai.

Classes have once again gone online in the college since about 25 rooms on the campus are being used for the evaluation of university exam papers.

“They have told us that they were moving to other colleges (where the hijab is allowed),” she said, adding the transfer certificates would be issued once the students apply in the proper format.

The vice-chancellor of Mangalore University, P. Subrahmanya Yadapadithaya, had earlier said the varsity would make it easy for girls who insisted on wearing the hijab in classrooms to join colleges where it was allowed. The government had already clarified that the no-hijab dress code was not applicable to private and minority institutions that selected their own uniform.

The vice-chancellor had said the university would tweak the rules to allow Muslim girls to seek admissions in private and minority institutions by transferring their admissions. He had also said the university would tweak the rules to allow these institutions to exceed their admission limits to accommodate girls who might seek admissions to continue wearing the hijab in classrooms.

The University College has been witnessing protests by students who want to wear the hijab in classrooms. Students with Sangh parivar leanings have protested against allowing the hijab inside classrooms by wearing saffron scarves. The college had denied entry to 16 hijab-wearing students in early June. But the majority of the 44 Muslim girls in the college have adhered to the dress code that allows hijab only on the campus and not in classrooms.

The Government First Grade College in Uppinangady in Dakshina Kannada district, of which Mangalore is the headquarters, had last month suspended six students for wearing the hijab in classrooms. Their suspension was later revoked after they agreed to attend classes without hijab.

The hijab issue has been raging in the state, especially in coastal Karnataka areas, since late December 2021, when the Government Pre-University College in neighbouring Udupi district denied entry to eight students from attending classes wearing the headscarf. The students had to spend their class hours on the campus, but not in classrooms, until the end of the academic year.

The issue eventually snowballed into statewide protests by pro- and anti-hijab groups and grabbed international attention, especially in Muslim countries where the matter was hotly debated.

Karnataka High Court in March upheld the state government’s decision not to allow hijab in classrooms stating that the headscarf was not part of essential religious practice under Islam.

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