All schools and colleges in Karnataka will be shut for the next three days amid the row over wearing hijab by students. Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai tweeted he has ordered all high schools and colleges to remain shut “to maintain peace and harmony”. The Karnataka High Court is hearing petitions filed by five women from a government college in Udupi, questioning hijab restrictions.
The high court, which heard the matter today, will continue the hearing tomorrow. The court also asked students and the public at large to maintain peace. “This court has full faith in the wisdom and virtue of public at large and it hopes that the same would be put to practice,” Justice Dixit Krishna Shripad said.
Just before the court proceedings ended today, the Chief Minister tweeted, “I appeal to all the students, teachers and management of schools and colleges as well as people of Karnataka to maintain peace and harmony. I have ordered closure of all high schools and colleges for next three days. All concerned are requested to cooperate.”
The hijab protests began last month at the Government Girls PU College in Udupi when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf. Right-wing groups in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru objected to Muslim girls wearing the hijab to class.
On Friday and Saturday last, a group of students marched to their college wearing saffron scarves.
The protests escalated today after groups of protesters threw stones at each other and students at a college put up a saffron flag.
At a college in Mandya, a Muslim girl stood her ground as a large number of saffron scarf wearing boys heckled her and shouted slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”. She shouted back at them: “Allah hu Akbar!”
College rules allow students to wear the hijab in class but not during lessons, according to officials.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, however, has said children should “neither wear the hijab nor saffron scarves” in school.