The controversy over dress code has impacted three more colleges in Karnataka’s coastal belt with all declaring a holiday on February 8 after some students turned up with saffron shawls and saffron peta, and hijab.
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Pre University and Degree colleges, both situated on the same premises, in Udupi, and the Government First Grade College at Vamadapadavu, Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada district declared a holiday to avoid any untoward incident.
Founded in 1949, MGM Degree College is an A grade accredited college by the NAAC, and is a well-known college in the coastal belt.
Some boys wore both saffron peta and shawls while some girls were seen wearing either saffron shawls or hijab in the premises of the two MGM colleges. Though the situation in the college campus was tense for some time in the forenoon as the students gathered inside the campus protested against each other, it eased after the college declared a holiday. The students dispersed gradually.
MGM Degree College principal Devidasa Naik told mediapersons that the campus is a healthy place. The colleges, both the pre university and degree sections, will remain closed till the management committee takes a decision on resuming classes. “The colleges will honour the verdict of the Karnataka High Court which is hearing petitions relating to the dress code,” he said.
A student, Varshi, who was sporting a saffron shawl told mediapersons outside the college in Udupi that students wore the shawls and peta as some students turned up wearing hijab. The college had told students on February 7 that neither shawls nor hijab will be allowed in classrooms. But some students turned up with a hijab on February 8 too. “Hence, we too wore saffron shawls. We want equality and uniformity,” she said.
Asked whether students were wearing hijab earlier to the college, she said they did. “But as per the government order now, it is not allowed now.”
Meanwhile, the controversy entered Dakshina Kannada on February 8 with some students, both girls and boys, of Government First Grade College at Vamadapadavu in Bantwal taluk turning up wearing saffron shawls. They shouted slogans that the college should not allow hijab inside classrooms.
Noticing that the situation is getting tense, the college declared a holiday for two days.
The Registrar (administration) of Mangalore University C. K. Kishore Kumar told The Hindu that the colleges which declared a holiday have been advised to conduct online classes to avoid further disruption in the already delayed academic calendar of the university. The lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions have already hit the academic calendar, he said adding that it is unfortunate that the academic atmosphere has been spoiled.
The controversy had touched another degree college in Dakshina Kannada, Pompei College in Aikala, about a month ago. The issue was resolved later after students agreed to attend classes wearing uniforms.