(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Sri Ramakunjeshwara First Grade College Ramakunja near Uppinangadi in coastal Karnataka has caught the imagination of the whole south Indian Muslim community due to the protest by nearly 100 Muslim girls of the college. Protest has entered 10th day for the Muslim girls of the college demanding lifting of ban on Hijab and Scarf in the college campus. They are boycotting classes for nearly 2 weeks and staging sit down protest outside the college main gate. The whole Muslim community in Karnataka is now rallying behind these girls who started this protest 10 days back. This Hijab incident has occurred in Uppinangady village located in the Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka.
Dakshina Kannada district, the dominion of BJP and Sangh parivar is termed as most hyper-sensitive of all districts in Karnataka. This district few years back hit headlines for attack on churches by Right wing Hindu groups.
Ramakunjeshwar College principal Vasanth Rao speaking to media said, “The management was of the opinion that wearing a hijab would affect teaching-learning process in the institution. Besides, students of other communities who study here would feel uncomfortable. There is no discrimination. We are implementing a rule that already existed. The parents were aware of it.” He also added that there is a conspiracy behind this protest, “We informed the students and their parents about the dress code prior to the admission in the college, they didn’t have any objection to the ban on wearing hijab. Now, suddenly they are protesting against our policy. We have a common code for uniform and that cannot be broken, we will not bow down to any religious pressure”.
College management for past 10 days is appealing to the Muslim students to call off their agitation and return back for studies, but Muslim girls seem relentless to their demand of lifting the ban on hijab which they termed as their religious right and an obligation.
Their persistent demand and unfettered approach is due to the support they are receiving not only from the Muslims of Dakshina Kannada district but from whole Karnataka. For example a massive protest on 21st July was organized by The Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) ‘Ramakunja Chalo’ protest to show their solidarity with the protesting Muslim girls, another protest was held under the banner of Mangalore University All College Students’ Union. In the beginning local police and college authorities thought it will be same like any other protest of village Muslims and numbers won’t cross hundred. But to every one’s shocker Muslim students from colleges all over the district arrived in the village in tempos, buses, and other vehicles, and numbers were unexpected. Muslim students shook the whole village by slogans against the Ramakunjeshwar College authorities and assembled at main gate of the college. KFD and many Muslim students from all over the district submitted a memorandum to the college authorities demanding to lift the ban on Hijab.
Many Muslim organizations have already approached Dakshina Kannada district administration demanding justice and intervention of authorities into this matter.
But now the impasse between college management and Muslim students has taken a serious turn. On 22nd July principal Vasanth Rao filed a criminal complaint against 14 Muslim girls students of the college who joined that massive protest against the college on 21st. The complaint filed in Kadaba police station against those 14 students states that students had used defamatory words against the college authorities and behaved in a manner to instigate a riot.
On the other hand, Muslim girls are firm on their demand; they termed the police complaint as another act of college management to pressurize the students to end the protest.