Groups of protesters threw stones at each other and students at a college put up a saffron flag today in the escalating hijab versus saffron scarves protests at Karnataka colleges.
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The protests, seen in and around Udupi till now, today reached more towns including Shivamogga, where a group of boys wearing saffron scarves cheered, chanted “Jai Shri Ram” and danced as one of them climbed a flag staff and put up a saffron flag.
In two towns, Harihara and Davengere, large gatherings were banned after hijab-wearing protesters and those wearing saffron shawls threw stones at each other. The police used teargas and batons to break them up.
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!”
Karnataka’s BJP government has been largely silent as it waits for a decision by the Karnataka High Court on a petition by five women from a government college in Udupi questioning hijab restrictions in college.
The High Court did not announce any order today but said: “Pending further hearing of the matter, this Court requests the student community and the public at large to maintain peace and tranquillity. 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.”
The hijab versus saffron scarves on campus row has taken hold of many colleges in Karnataka. Today, the incidents took on a communal colour with the confrontations turning more aggressive.
The day began with a massive crowd of students protesting at a college in Udupi – one group in the hijab and another wearing saffron scarves.
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.
The protests spread to more colleges in Udupi and beyond, with staff banning the hijab and many students taking a confrontational position by showing up in saffron scarves and shouting slogans.
On Saturday, the state government banned clothes which it said “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. “In the event of the administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn,” the order said.