#Opinion

Girl Students With And Without Hijab Hold Hands In Udupi: A Picture Of Hope

students unity karnataka
As communal debate takes over the educational institutions in Karnataka and other parts of India, it is a relief to see girls take a stand for each other as they face an uncertain future. What started in Udupi’s college when a Muslim student was not allowed to attend classes with hijab had escalated into a communal row in the state and country.

Young boys and girls wrapped in saffron shawl shouted, “Jai Shri Ram.” While Muslim girls pleaded to be allowed in the classes for approaching examination. The entire scene exposed the hypocrisy of the slogan “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,” while Betis were not allowed to attend classes.

Recently, Deccan Herald published a picture of girl students in Udupi, hijab or no hijab, holding each other’s hands. The caption read, “Amid the hijab row, students of different communities walk together to the Government PU College in Udupi as it reopened on Wednesday.”


Suggested Reading: Separate Classes For Students In Hijab: When Communalism Puts Education At Stake


Colleges in the district were closed for the longest amidst the rising protest by students, both for and against wearing hijab and what constitutes as uniform. Even section 144 was imposed to ensure that no protests take place near educational institutions there.

According to the interim order by the Karnataka High Court, the students have been asked to follow the state ascribed uniform and avoid wearing any religious clothing. The case was then taken to the Supreme Court of India for urgent hearing, but the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana refused to hear the appeal.

Students Unity Karnataka: Do Not Let The Communal Forces Snap The Unity Of Students

As per the students, the restrictions on wearing hijab in colleges and schools were never an issue. Although they were asked to take it off in classrooms they were allowed to wear it on campus. Then why suddenly are these young women stopped from exercising their choice?

It is because of the revision done by the Education Ministry of Karnataka which dictated that students will no longer be allowed to wear Hijab to classrooms. “Proper” uniforms are a must. Hijab was taken as religious clothing and seen against the secular nature of the educational institutions.

Many raised the question on this as people have grown up or gone to schools with kids wearing hijab and that was never considered an issue before, then why now? The row has left the political community in India divided as well. One half talks about the futility of a move like this and the other justifies it.

But were our schools ever devoid of religious symbols? Prayers, Saraswati puja celebration, even the education ministry parade during the 2022 Republic Day parade showing a student dressed in Brahmin, an upper-caste priest community, attire, amongst many such examples. Are these not against secular forces then? So why does hijab hurt the eyes so much? Also, is secularism not about respecting and being tolerant towards others religious practices?

These are some of the debates that have taken over a place where students must study, grow and aspire. This communal divide in classrooms which had for generations harboured tolerance and sharing tiffin boxes, is horrendous. Till when can we tolerate politics and its hampering of education of girl students?

On a concluding note, the picture of unity amongst girl students and students, in general, is a positive and optimistic outlook that one can harbour in the current political climate. These students are the future of what India should constitute, tolerance and respect. Not rowdiness and unnecessary harassment.

(Feature Image Credit: Deccan Herald)

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