The Karnataka High Court upheld the state government’s order on the restriction on wearing hijab (headscarf) to educational institutions–schools and colleges–in the state today. Following the verdict, Supreme Court lawyer Anas Tanwir tweeted that Udupi students will now approach the Supreme Court of India on the matter.
Tanwir tweeted, “Met my clients in Hijab matter in Udupi. Moving to SC soon InshaAllah. These girls will continue their education while exercising their rights to wear Hijab. These girls have not lost hope in Courts and Consitution.”
The Karnataka High Court, earlier today, ruled that the “hijab is not an essential part of Islam.” The Chief Justice of Karnataka HC Ritu Raj Awasthi said, “We are of the considered opinion that wearing a hijab by Muslim woman does not form part of the essential religious practice in the Islamic faith.”
Suggested Reading: How Media Coverage Has Shifted From The Core Issue In Hijab Row To Sensationalism
Udupi Students Approach Supreme Court
The three-bench judge of Karnataka High Court hearing the case comprised of Chief Justice Awasthi, Justices JM Khazi and Krishna S Dixit. “Till the disposal of the matter, you people should not insist on wearing all these religious things,” Chief Justice Awasthi had said while reserving the verdict earlier.
While the Karnataka HC has reserved their decision on the petitions filed by the students against the government order, they had insisted that the students adhere to the restriction while it comes to a verdict. During this time, an appeal was filed by a student at the SC for an urgent hearing but the plea, which challenged the interim order was rejected by the court.
“Please do not spread it to larger levels. We know what is happening. Think over, is it proper to bring these things to Delhi? The National level? If there is anything wrong, we will protect…” said Chief Justice of India NV Ramana while rejecting the plea.
After the Karnataka High Court verdict, 35 students of Surapura Taluk Kembavi Government PU College in Yadgir, Karnataka, boycotted their exam and left the college premise. The protesting students said that they will first discuss the verdict with their parents and then decided on whether they will be attending classes without hijab or not. One of the students said, “We will write our exams wearing hijab. If they ask us to remove hijab, we will not write exams.” The principal of the college said that she had asked the students to follow the HC verdict but the students refused and walked out.
Karnataka Hijab Row
This row began in December last year after a group of students were denied entry into the Government PU College for Girls in Udupi, Karnataka. They were denied the right to enter and attend classes for wearing Hijab. The administration cited the order by the state education ministry, which stated that no religious clothing except a “proper” uniform will be allowed.
Although, the students claimed that this was the first time such regulation was being implemented. The grieving students were then asked to attend online classes if they were adamant about wearing a hijab. Many videos have gone viral over the past two months, in which students can be seen pleading to the authorities to let them attend their classes as their exams date was drawing closer. But they were not allowed.
Rapidly, this matter spilt over to other educational institutions in the district and then in the state. In February, this year, the students at the Bhandarkar’s college in Udupi were also barred from entering the campus while wearing hijab. This restriction was implemented after a group of male students came to college clad in saffron shawls.
In the Mandya district of the state, a girl wearing burkha was hounded by a group of saffron-clad boys. Tired of their harassment, the girl, whose name is Muskan, shouted “Allah Hu Akbar” which only instigated them further.
The escalation in the matter had even forced the schools and colleges to shut down while police stood prepared in a distance to thwart any kind of protest from any religious group.