The ongoing Hijab controversy in Karnataka sparked off violence in communally-sensitive Shivamogga on Tuesday as students with saffron shawls protested against Muslim girls wearing hijab in educational institutions. This led to an incident at the Government First Grade College, Shivamogga where a group of boys hoisted a saffron flag on the flag pole on the college grounds.
The video of the incident soon went viral with Congress leader DK Shivakumar tweeting about the incident claiming that the national flag was replaced by a saffron flag at an educational institution in Shivamogga.
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The statement of Shivakumar was tweeted by Times Now journalist Imran Khan quoting him with the viral video of the students with saffron shawls hoisting the saffron flag.
The Congress leader in an interview with India Today reiterated the same claim that the national flag was replaced at the college.
The same claim was also reported by India Today with the headline - "Karnataka hijab row: Student 'replaces' tricolour with saffron flag in Shimoga | Watch" which was later changed to "Karnataka hijab row: Student hoists saffron flag in Shimoga, sparks row"
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India Today later also deleted its tweet.
BOOM looked through videos from the incident at Government First Grade College (CFGC) and we did not spot a national flag around in the visuals of the incident.
We then reached out to Dhananjaya BR, principal of the college who told us that there was no tricolour on the pole when the students with saffron shawls were climbing on it to hoist the saffron flag.
"The flag pole was empty when the protesting students were there, if a tricolour was removed, there would have been more protests. I saw a student climb up and put the saffron flag there," the principal who was at the spot told BOOM.
"There was no national flag on the pole then, and the last time it was hoisted was on January 26, 2022, and was removed after 6 pm that day. Since then the flag pole in the college has no flag hoisted on it," he added.
The principal also sent us a photo taken before the saffron flag was hoisted and shows the flag pole empty.
BOOM also spoke to two local reporters in Shivamogga, who were present at the college when the incident occurred and also confirmed to us that there was no Indian flag on the pole.
"The incident occurred between 10 - 10.45 am in the morning when from the students that the protesting in the campus, a boy picked a saffron flag climbed up on the pole and hoisted it," one of the reporters who did not wish to be named as they are not allowed to speak to other news outlets.
"The saffron flag was there for around 10 minutes after which police came in and removed it," the reporter said.
Additionally, we also watched other videos from the incident and did not spot a tricolour present at the spot.
Hijab row escalates
On December 28, 2021, eight Muslim students were denied entry into the government-run PU College for Girls in Udupi, Karnataka because they were wearing a hijab. Months after continued protests, hijab-wearing girls were allowed entry. However, they were made to sit in a classroom separate from the one they usually sat in, and no lectures were conducted for them.
Soon there were counter protests by right-wing groups in the state against Muslim girls wearing a Hijab at educational institutes as videos from Kundapur in the Udupi district showed boys and girls donning saffron scarves over their college uniforms and raising slogans of 'Jai Shri Ram' while going to college.