5 things you need to know about the hijab row

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest march in solidarity with girl students of Karnataka over 'hijab' issue , at Shaheen bagh, in New Delhi on Wednesday. | Picture: ANI

The Hijab row has hogged national and international limelight. TwoCircles.net lists five things you need to know about the controversy. 

Kaushik Raj | TwoCircles.net

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KARNATAKA — On February 8, a video of a Muslim student in Hijab heckled by Jai Shree Ram-shouting boys wearing saffron scarves in a college in Karnataka went viral on social media. The incident sparked massive outrage across India, with many condemning the heckling.

As the Hijab row has hogged national limelight across the country, TwoCircles.net lists five things you need to know about the controversy. 

What started the Hijab row controversy?
The controversy started on December 31, 2021, when six Hijab-wearing female students belonging to the Government PU College for Girls in Udupi, Karnataka were not allowed to attend classes by the college authorities. The issue snowballed into a controversy after Hindu students of the Government First Grade College in Koppa, Chikmagalur, staged a sit-in protest on January 31 sporting saffron scarves against the wearing of hijab by Muslim girl students. On January 6, protests by Hindu students against the wearing of hijab by Muslim girl students were witnessed in other colleges in Karnataka—especially in communally sensitive Udupi, Mangaluru and Chikmagalur. By now, the controversy had escalated. 

On January 31, a student of the college in Udupi approached Karnataka High Court “seeking directions to her college to permit entry into her classroom while wearing a hijab.” 

The protest against Hijab-wearing women turned violent on February 8 when incidents of stone-pelting and forcefully entering college premises were reported from Shivamogga district and Bagalkot district respectively in Karnataka. Similar incidents of saffron shawl wearing men protesting against Hijab and creating law and order situation were reported from Sindhanur in Raichur district, Government PU College Mannur in Afzalpur taluk of Kalaburagi district, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial PU College in Udupi across Karnataka.

Kundapur government college allows girls to sit in separate room, gets criticized
On February 7, the Kundapur government college in Karnataka came into heavy criticism for what many people called the policy of “apartheid” when the college allowed Hijab-wearing students inside premises but made them sit in a separate room. 

What has the BJP ruled Karnataka government said on the matter?
On February 5, the BJP ruled Karnataka government banned the wearing of Hijab, issuing an order banning the wearing of any such clothes that “disturb equality, integrity, and public order in schools and colleges.” On February 8, the chief minister announced the closure of all high schools and colleges for 3 days amid rising protests. On February 11, the chief minister urged his ministers, party members not to speak on the Hijab row and await court orders on the matter.   

What have other political parties said about the issue?
The ban against Hijab has been criticized by several political parties. On February 5, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that by prohibiting Hijab-wearing women in colleges “We are robbing the future of daughters of India.” On February 8, opposition parties staged a walk-out from the Lok Sabha on the Hijab row saying “India was a secular country where people are free to practice their religion.” The parties that staged a walked out included the Congrees, the DMK, the Indian Union Muslim League, the CPI (M), the CPI, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. 

What has the court said?
The Karnataka High Court, which is currently hearing the petitions challenging the hijab ban in colleges in the state, on February 10 passed an interim order restraining “students to wear religious clothing, regardless of their faith, while the matter is pending at court.” The court ordered the state government to reopen colleges at the earliest. The court will hear the matter on Monday, February 14.

A girl in Karnataka had moved the Supreme Court against the interim order passed by the high court, demanding its reversal. The Supreme Court today dismissed the plea saying, “We will interfere only at an appropriate time.” 


Kaushik Raj is a poet and independent journalist based in Delhi. He tweets at @kaushikrj6