Jammu & Kashmir

Hijab ban: JK former CMs ‘disappointed’ over HC verdict

Muslim students being stopped by Hindu Right-Wing students at college gate in Udupi Karnataka. [Photo: twitter/ Suha Nazma]

Srinagar: Soon after the High Court of Karnataka said that hijab is not an essential religious practice and dismissed various petitions challenging the ban on Tuesday, various Indian political parties including politicians from Kashmir criticized the court’s verdict slamming it as a ‘denial of constitutional right’ to women and demanded an appeal.

However, BJP politicians welcomed the decision but opposition members have expressed dismay over the court’s ruling.

Former Chief Ministers in erstwhile JK state, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti termed the verdict “disappointing”.

“Very disappointed by the verdict of the Karnataka High Court. Regardless of what you may think about the hijab it’s not about an item of clothing, it’s about the right of a woman to choose how she wants to dress,” Omar Abdullah, who is vice president of the National Conference, said in a tweet. “That the court didn’t uphold this basic right is a travesty,” Omar Abdullah added.

“Karnataka HC’s decision to uphold the Hijab ban is deeply disappointing,” Mehbooba Mufti, PDP president, said in a tweet. “On one hand we talk about empowering women yet we are denying them the right to a simple choice. It isn’t just about religion but the freedom to choose,” she added.

On March 15, the Karnataka HC in its verdict said that hijab is not an essential religious practice and dismissed various petitions challenging the ban.

Ahead of the order, the state government of Karnataka also banned large gatherings for a week in Bengaluru “to maintain public peace and order”.

A bench of Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit, and Justice JM Khazi said that no case is made out for invalidating the Government Order of February 5.

The Muslim students with hijab were first disallowed to enter college in January in Government PU College in Udupi. Following this, the students sat in protest sat outside college over being denied entry.

After this, some Hindu students, also workers of the Hindu right-wing party, of several colleges in Udupi started attending classes wearing saffron scarves. This protest spread to other parts of the state as well leading to protests and agitations in several places in Karnataka.

The Karnataka government later banned both hijab till an expert committee decides on the issue. On February 5, the pre-University education board released a circular stating that the students can only wear the uniform approved by the school administration and no other religious attire will be allowed in colleges.

The order stated that in case a uniform is not prescribed by management committees, then students should wear dresses that go well with the idea of equality and unity, and do not disturb the social order.

A batch of petitions was filed against the government’s rule in the Karnataka High Court by students seeking permission to wear the hijab in educational institutions.


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