Hundreds of people on Sunday gathered in front of a Mangaluru college and protested against the college administration after a ban was imposed on hijab and beard in the campus.
Protests broke out at the college as the Muslim students said they were being denied the right to practice their religion, which is a basic fundamental right as laid down in the Constitution.
The students refused to attend their classes and held a demonstration at the college entrance.
The protesters accused the principal and teachers of harassing the students for wearing headscarf inside the classrooms. The students are forced to remove the headscarf while entering the classrooms. The students are threatened of suspension if they fail to abide by the rules of the college, they charged. They held placards which read the college authorities are suppressing the religious freedom of the students. They raised slogans against the college seeking justice.
On Thursday, a student wearing hijab in the classroom was questioned by members of the college discipline committee. On Friday, activists of Campus Front of India (CFI), student wing of the Popular Front of India, came to the college and demanded that she be allowed to wear the hijab. The college principal reportedly told them that he can only act on a representation of students and their parents. On Saturday, the activists launched a protest, with some students joining in.
A first-year student said she was among the many others who had signed on the declaration without noticing the condition on wearing headscarves. Another first-year student said that though no one had been sent out of the class for wearing a hijab, they were being “taunted” by college staff.
Mohammed Athaulla, CFI district president, stated in a memorandum to the principal that it was not constitutional to prescribe or force students to follow a dress code. Minority students in the college were being frequently targeted since the past one year over the headscarf and other issues due to which the students were mentally disturbed, he stated, adding that they shouldn’t be divided in the name of religion.
Principal Dr A R Shabaraya said the students were given a declaration form with conditions, including bar on wearing headscraf inside classrooms, examination hall, library and office during admission. The students and parents have gone through the form before submitting it, he added.