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Hijab Row: Student Groups Hold Protests in Solidarity With Muslim Girls in Karnataka Colleges

The SFI, student groups from IITM and Azim Premji University have been holding protests and campaigns in solidarity with Muslim girls who have been targetted for wearing the hijab in Karnataka colleges.
SFI activists holding secular assembly in a campus in Malappuram district, Kerala (Courtesy: SFI kerala facebook page

SFI activists holding secular assembly in a campus in Malappuram district, Kerala (Courtesy: SFI kerala facebook page

Various forms of protests have erupted across South India against the 'Sangh Parivar’s attack' on the Muslim students wearing hijab in the campuses of Karnataka. Student bodies from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) units in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have denounced the ‘attack’ on the students by the right-wing groups.

The SFI units in Kerala held secular assemblies in campuses across the state with their Tamil Nadu counterparts holding protest demonstrations against the saffronisation of campuses. 

ChintaBAR, the students collective of IITM, and Azim Premji University Students Collective are holding protests and signature campaigns, respectively, in solidarity with the students bullied by the right-wing Hindutva groups in Karnataka.


The students’ collective of Azim Premji University, Bengaluru has condemned the blatant attack by the right wing students’ group and called for a united protest against the 'saffronisation of educational spaces'. In a statement, the students’ collective has termed the attack on the Muslim students as an attack on the right to education ensured by the Indian Constitution.

“Our constitution provides everyone with the right to education regardless of religion, caste, gender, or other differences. Denying education based on wearing hijabs denies them not only their fundamental right but also creates a divide among the students, which could fuel further hatred,” the statement read.

The collective also noted the role of external right-wing groups supplying saffron shawls and headwear to create unrest among the student community. On the role of the Union government, the collective found these attacks to be distractive tactics to divert people from issues of poverty and unemployment. 

The collective has called upon the student community, democratic organisations, and movements to resist these efforts with more vigour. The statement said that, “Failing to protest now will be a historic mistake”.


The SFI state committees of Tamil Nadu and Kerala has called for various protests against the right-wing offensive against the hijab-wearing Muslim students. The SFI Kerala unit held secular assemblies across the campuses on February 10 in solidarity.

“Even as the vicious communal propaganda of the fundamentalists continue, the campuses and the progressive community have the responsibility to preserve the secular heritage of the country,” a statement by SFI Kerala state committee said. The protesting students ridiculed the religious and fundamentalistic slogans raised by the right-wing groups in campuses.

The secular assemblies saw massive participation of students across the campuses and condemned the targetted activities by Sangh Parivar-backed student association against Muslim girls in various college campuses in Karnataka. The Hindutan Times also reported citing sources that the saffron scarves and turbans sported by students protesting against the hijab at Udupi’s Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) college were given to them by members of the Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagrana Vedike.

The SFI committees across Tamil Nadu also held protests against such incidents. SFI state secretary, V Mariappan, told Newsclick, “The Union government has been trying to snatch away the rights of the students, those belonging to the marginalised sections since coming to the office in 2014. This is one such attack to deprive the Muslim girls from getting access to education.”

SFI activists holding solidarity protests despite severe rain in Thanjavur.

SFI activists holding solidarity protests despite severe rain in Thanjavur.

The SFI also pointed out the inaction of the Karnataka state government and the Union government on the issue. “Though several proofs have been published of organisations like the Bajrang Dal encouraging students to bully Muslim girls, no action has been taken so far,” he said. 

The SFI also accused the union government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of pursuing policies against the welfare of the students and girls in particular.

“From cuts in allocation to scholarships in the union budget, introduction of NEP 2020 against the welfare of the rural students and increasing the GST for napkins, the policies expose the class orientation of the BJP government”, Mariappan added.

The SFI has ridiculed the decisions of the BJP government to appoint Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-backed academicians as Chancellors of important universities and promoting religious activities on campuses. “All these activities have resulted in the saffronisation of campuses across the country. This is highly deplorable and is against the secular fabric of the nation,” he said.


The student collective of the IITM, ChintaBAR joined the nationwide protests called against the incidents. Considering the pandemic situation, students joined the protests from classrooms and hostels by holding placards carrying solidarity messages.

In a video uploaded on the Facebook page of ChintaBAR, the students extended support to those affected by the rightwing hooliganism on campuses in different districts of Karnataka.

“We will fight Communalism with Secularism and We will defeat Hate with Solidarity,” was the message carried by the protesting members

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