Girls in hijab are barred from several pre-university colleges in Karnataka state whose chief minister Basavraj Bommai insists ban on Islamic headgear doesn't apply to institutions where there is no dress code.
Muslim students have been denied entry into several pre-university colleges in India's southern Karnataka state as they were asked to remove their hijab before entering classes.
The colleges in India reopened on Wednesday after they remained closed for a week amid the dispute over the hijab ban.
Students refused to remove their headscarves in the Shivamogga city and preferred missing class instead, according to Press Trust of India, a news agency.
Footages shared on social media showed students at various colleges in Karnataka were being asked to remove their hijabs to attend classes, with most of them refusing to do so.
Last week, the Karnataka High Court blocked students from wearing religious garments until it makes a final ruling on the matter.
A three-judge panel has been hearing the case again since Monday to decide if schools and colleges can order students not to wear the hijab in classrooms.
"College authorities are not allowing us inside the college. They are asking us to remove the hijab and burqa. We are Muslims, how can we remove it? It's our pride, we will wear it, and we do not care about our lives," a student said.
"According to me, it's my decision to wear a hijab, we have been wearing this since our childhood. This is a part of us," Farzana, a student at Dr. G Shankar Government Women's First Grade College said.
READ MORE: The Karnataka hijab ban is the latest result of India’s Hindutva laboratory
Muchhala : Why are Muslim girls who conscientiously believe that they should wear headscarf be put to a Hobson's choice regarding education and faith? Is it fair?#HijabRow #KarnatakaHijabControversy— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) February 16, 2022
Order applies to institutions that have dress code
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai said on Wednesday that the court order applies to institutions that have dress code.
"The order doesn't apply to where there is no dress code," he said in a statement.
A group of Muslim women filed petitions against the government order banning the hijab on college premises.
The hijab ban protests erupted after a college in Karnataka told students to take off their headscarves inside the classroom.
Those protesting the move cited the Constitution that allows Indians to wear clothes of their choice and display religious symbols.
READ MORE: Hijab-wearing Indian woman lauded for standing up to far-right Hindu mob
READ MORE: Court says no to religious clothes until verdict over India hijab ban
As the Kuwaiti parliament strongly condemns the attack on #Hijab in India and seeks UN action against this inhuman act of the Hindutva regime. We also demand an immediate investigation and arrest of members of sleeper cells of the fascist RSS in Kuwait.#SaveHijab #BanRSS pic.twitter.com/sbGtEojs5w— المحامي⚖مجبل الشريكة (@MJALSHRIKA) February 16, 2022
Kuwaiti activists gathered in Irada Square in Kuwait City on Sunday to support Muslim women in #India following a ban on #hijab at schools and colleges in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/jyGkGhGAlF— KUWAIT TIMES (@kuwaittimesnews) February 13, 2022
India says OIC Secretariat has 'communal mindset'
Meanwhile, India on Tuesday accused the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) of harbouring a "communal mindset" after the Islamic bloc expressed "deep concerns" over the ongoing hijab ban and recent calls for genocide of Muslims by far-right Hindu groups close to ruling BJP government in India.
"Issues in India are considered and resolved in accordance with our constitutional framework and mechanisms, as well as democratic ethos and polity," the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The communal mindset of the OIC Secretariat does not allow for a proper appreciation of these realities."
READ MORE: 'India is not France,' say activists fighting to wear the hijab in schools
"It is our right. Hijab is our right."— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) February 13, 2022
A hijab ban in Karnataka, India is violating the right to express one's religious beliefs. pic.twitter.com/9aJFOytZN7
According to the Indian constitution, every citizen has the right to practice, profess and propagate religion. The right can be curtailed only on grounds of public order, morality and health.
But a rise in hate speech targeting India's Muslim minority by supporters of the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has taken hold, isolating and intimidating some of the 200 million Muslims living among 1.4 billion people in India, mostly Hindus.
Since PM Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, various legislative and other actions have been taken, legitimising discrimination against religious minorities and enabling violent Hindu nationalism, Human Rights Watch said in a report last year, charges Indian premier and the BJP vehemently deny.
A letter signed by some 2,000 people including journalists, social activists, authors and lawyers has called the hijab ban a "hate crime".
International figures like Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and French footballer Paul Pogba have also criticised the imposition of the hijab ban on Indian Muslims.
READ MORE: 'How is this not apartheid?': Muslims in India denounce hijab ban