Karnataka Hijab Row: Karnataka Schools Reopen, Crucial Hijab Hearing In Court Today: 10 Points

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Bengaluru:
Karnataka schools (up to Class 10) re-opened today amid controversy over the state barring Muslim students from wearing a hijab during classes. Classes 11 and 12 are closed till Wednesday. Petitions against the ban are being heard by the High Court.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. “Schools up to Class 10 will re-open from Monday. I have instructed (district and police officials) and school administrations to conduct a ‘peace committee’ meeting. Schools for higher classes and degree colleges will re-open after reviewing the situation,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.

  2. Ahead of today’s classes, orders banning large gatherings were announced in several districts that witnessed tense stand-offs between students protesting for the right to wear the hijab and those opposed, including people from right-wing outfits, who brandish saffron shawls and scarves.

  3. In Mangaluru, prohibitory orders under Section 144 are in place for 200 metres around all high schools in city limits. In Udupi – where the protests first began – assemblies of five or more people near schools have been banned. District officials told news agency ANI: “Students are coming to schools (and) the situation is peaceful. The district administration is following High Court orders”.

  4. At a Mandya school, however, some parents argued that their children should be allowed to wear the hijab, but a teacher refused permission. The students were only allowed to enter after removing the hijab. A Class 9 student at a government-run school in Udupi told NDTV there were two girls in her class (including herself) who wear the hijab and both had removed it to attend class.

  5. On Sunday, police in Shivamogga – where last week a frenzied mob waving saffron scarves cheered and chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as one student ran up a saffron flag on campus – took out a flag march and banned gatherings on or around high school premises. This was after flag marches in three other towns – Udupi, Chitradurga and Doddaballapura – also last week.

  6. At 2.30 pm the Karnataka High Court will resume hearing a crucial plea by six students who, in December, had first questioned the ban. Last week, in a contentious interim order, the court ruled that schools and colleges could reopen but no religious clothing, including hijabs, would be allowed.

  7. Asking students and the public to “maintain peace”, the court had said: “Pending consideration of all petitions, we restrain all students, regardless of their religion or faith, from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders…”

  8. The order was challenged in the Supreme Court – on grounds it violated students’ constitutional rights – but Chief Justice NV Ramana only said: “We will interfere only at an appropriate time.” The Chief Justice was unmoved despite being told the case had “far-reaching implications”.

  9. The top court earlier refused to hear a petition by Fatima Bushra, a student who challenged a state order that banned clothes which it said “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. The Chief Justice declined pointing out that a three-member High Court bench is still hearing the matter.

  10. Protests have escalated rapidly over the past few weeks. Last week a young student in Mandya was heckled by saffron-waving male aggressors shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Karnataka’s BJP government has been largely silent as it waits for the court, but the protests have been noticed worldwide, with Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and French footballer Paul Pogba supporting the Muslim students.

With input from ANI, PTI

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