Amid Strike Call, Symbolic Protests Across Karnataka Against Hijab Verdict

Students from across the state have boycotted classes.

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New Delhi: Muslim religious leaders in Karnataka have called for a strike to be held on Thursday, March 17, the Karnataka high court’s decision to uphold the ban on hijabs in educational institutions in the state. 

Indian Express has reported that while Muslim shop owners from across the state have reportedly closed their shops in “symbolic protests”, several shops owned by non-Muslims have remained open.

Muslim students from across Karnataka began various forms of protest since the verdict was announced. Students from other parts of the country, too, protested the high court’s decision.

News agency ANI reported that a group of students in Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai, took to the streets on the day of the judgement; March 15.

A day after the verdict, graffiti surfaced in a few government education institutions and public walls in Hospet, the district headquarters of Vijayanagara district, saying “Hijab is our Dignity.”

The graffiti was, however, removed by civic officials later. Four separate cases were registered in three police stations in the district in connection with the incident.

On Tuesday, a full bench of the Karnataka high court ruled that the hijab was not an “essential religious practice in Islamic faith” and upheld the February 5 government order (GO) by which the state government had banned wearing clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges. 

As such, the bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S. Dixit and J.M. Khazi dismissed the multiple petitions Muslim students had filed against the GO.

Also read: While Upholding Hijab Ban, Karnataka HC Misconstrued Several Constitutional Principles

Following the decision, Muslim girl students began leaving their classrooms in protests and took to the streets with placards and slogans.

The six Muslim girl students of the Government Pre University Girls College in Udupi did not turn up for classes on Wednesday either.

In Kamala Nehru College in Shivamogga 15 girls returned home saying that they will not enter college.

In Bhatkal town in Uttara Kannada district, a section of traders observed a bandh. The Burma Bazaar, Main Road, Madina Colony and Navayat Colony in Bhatkal wore a deserted look on March 16.

Several Muslim students, such as one Niba Naaz, have sought to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. However, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana told advocate Sanjay Hegde that the court would consider listing the matter only after the Holi vacation, which will go on until March 21, Bar and Bench reported.

Hegde tried to convince CJI Ramana to list the matter on Monday, March 21 itself on the grounds that the students will have to sit for exams from March 25; however, CJI Ramana maintained that the matter will only be considered once the courts reconvene.