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FIR filed, suspension reported, in punitive action against students in Karnataka hijab row

FIR filed in state's Tumakuru town believed to be 1st such against any student in the case. And video showing college principal in Shivamogga district 'suspending' protesters goes viral.

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Bengaluru: As protests against a ban on the wearing of the hijab inside government educational institutions in Karnataka rages on, reports of alleged punitive action by college administrations in some parts of the state has led to the situation becoming even more tense. Police in the state’s Tumakuru town Thursday registered an FIR against some “unknown” girl students for demanding to be allowed inside classrooms in a hijab.

The FIR, believed to be the first to be registered against any student in the case, was based on a complaint filed by a college principal and comes days after the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order, uploaded on the high court website on 11 February, restraining students of colleges that have a prescribed dress code or uniform from wearing “religious garments” till further orders.

The FIR registered by Tumakuru Town police, mentions 10-15 “unknown” girl students of Empress Government Pre-University (PU) college, and is based on a complaint filed by the college’s principal, Shanmukha S, Thursday.

According to the FIR, of which ThePrint has a copy, the principal in his complaint alleged violation of prohibitory orders (to prevent unlawful gatherings, protests, agitations, imposed by the district administration) by the student protesters, who demanded to allowed inside classrooms in hijabs. The principal in his complaint has accused the protesting students of creating an environment of fear among other students, disrupting college and violating orders banning the wearing of the hijab inside classrooms.

And video of principal threatening suspension goes viral

Meanwhile, a video in which the principal of a government school in Shiralakoppa in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district, Somashekha, appears to be announcing the suspension of 58 students protesting against the hijab ban, went viral on social media platforms and local television channels Friday.

“DySP, deputy director, members of school development authority have all tried to convince you, but you have remained adamant and are violating rules. Hence, I am suspending you from the college,” Somashekhar is heard saying in the video.

He adds: “Now that you are suspended, you are not allowed to enter the college campus.”

On Friday, reacting to criticism of the college’s alleged action, Deputy Commissioner, Shivamogga, Dr Selvamani R, told ThePrint, however, that no official suspension order has been passed.

The reports of punitive action against students protesting against the hijab ban comes days after an English lecturer in a college in Tumakuru resigned, citing that the institution was asking her to teach without a hijab.

On Wednesday Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told the Karnataka legislative assembly that the Karnataka high court’s interim order does not extend to degree colleges, which have no dress code.

The court has been hearing multiple petitions challenging a government order passed on 5 February, which “legitimises” the ban on hijab wearing inside government educational institutions. A final decision in the matter is yet to be taken.

Also read: Let’s focus on getting women into education, work. Don’t make it conditional on what they wear


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