The hijab row in Karnataka is escalating. What started as a controversy over the ban on wearing hijab to classrooms soon took the shape of stone-pelting and lathi-charge incidents at Pre-University Colleges in Karnataka. Now, the Karnataka government has ordered the closure of high schools (Class IX and X) and colleges for three days.
So, a simple controversy has turned into communal tensions of the scale that the state’s educational institutes have to suffer. The question is how did we come down to this situation?
The communal twist being given to the situation
The only question that should have been considered was whether the educational institutions have the right to determine uniform codes on their campuses?
But unfortunately, reports have given a communal angle. A Twitter user pointed out how Janta ka Reporter published a report titled, “Karnataka’s brave Muslim girl shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ to counter terrorists chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to mock Hijab”.
The tweet has gone viral. The report has now been changed and the headline now reads, “Karnataka’s brave Muslim girl shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ to counter chanting of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ by Hindu students.”
However, you can access the old, archived report here.
Meanwhile, the issue is getting politicised in the educational campuses in Karnataka. Students of IDSG College in Chikkamaglur district repeatedly came wearing blue shawls and raised ‘Jai bhim’ slogans in support of the female students wearing the hijab. Now, this sounds rather strange.
Tribhuwan, an editor at TFI raised the questions and quoted,”Those who say that Muslims aren’t the biggest beneficiary of the faction between Dalits and other Hindu casts need to retrospect more. Radicals drive the wedge amongst Hindus for their own good! What has Jai Bhim has to do with Hijab?”
Those who say that Muslims aren’t the biggest beneficiary of the faction between Dalits and other Hindu casts need to retrospect more. Radicals drive the wedge amongst Hindus for their own good!
What has Jai Bhim has to do with Hijab? https://t.co/ptBVqHhuwT
— Tribhuwan (@tribhuwan_0196) February 7, 2022
Attempt to infiltrate lethal weapons into ‘hijab’ protest site
Two people- Rajab, 41, and Abdul Majid, 32, have been reportedly arrested in Kundapur in Karnataka’s Udupi district. They were allegedly carrying lethal weapons during a protest at a government college over the hijab row.
They formed part of a group of five people spotted around the protest site. ST Siddalingappa, the Additional SP of Udupi Police, said, “Two have been arrested, three are absconding. We are trying to trace them. They had one knife and they were not locals. They are from Gangolli. They have been sent to judicial custody. The case is under investigation.”
There is a clear attempt to exploit the hijab row and instigate widespread communal violence in the state’s educational campuses.
Fake news flying around?
And when educational campuses in Karnataka are already witnessing protests, acts of violence and communal tensions, what was needed was an appeal for maintaining peace and calm.
However, there has been some mischievous reports and fake news about a student in a college in Shivamoga climbing up a pole and hoisting a saffron flag in place of the National Flag of India- the Tricolour.
This was a perfect opportunity for left-liberal Twitter users to take their usual anti-RSS digs and claim that the RSS doesn’t respect the National Flag. Some even expressed shock over how ‘Hindu students’ replaced the Tricolour with the saffron flag.
When farmer groups hoisted the Nishan Sahib (not even replacing the tricolour or in violation of law) it became the central narrative to call them anti-national by liberals and the RW. Hindu students hoisted the saffron flag in place of the tricolour in Karnataka and… Silence.
— Asmita Bakshi (@asmitabee) February 9, 2022
Hindu Right-Wing has never accepted India’s tricolor. Only in 2002, after 52yrs, RSS office had hoisted the tricolor for the first time. Hindu Right Wing replaced today the tricolor with their saffron flag in a college in Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/yRckX6V4De
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) February 8, 2022
Yet, as it turns out, the local authorities have said that the Tricolour is hoisted on that pole at the campus of Government First Grade College at Shivamoga only on Republic Day and Independence Day. There was no flag hoisted on the day when the student climbed the pole and hoisted a saffron flag.
The hijab row was always meant to be a mere controversy. It wasn’t a communal issue. But many twists and turns were given to the controversy and it is now being turned into a full-fledged communal issue.