On the day the Karnataka High Court ruled that the hijab is not an essential religious practice, backing a state government ban on religious clothing in schools and colleges, eight burqa-clad students in a Karnataka district were not allowed to appear for exams.
Eight students who had come to Kembhavi village PU college in Yadgir district of Karnataka wearing hijabs to take their second PU preparatory examinations were turned away.
Before the High Court's interim ban, this college allowed the students to wear the hijab inside classrooms.
The eight students had taken the exams yesterday without a hijab but refused to remove them today. When the authorities failed to convince them, they were asked to leave the college premises.
"The college earlier allowed hijab but we were simply following the High Court's interim order. We tried to convince the students not to wear the hijab. They abided by that. But today, they refused to remove it and take their exams," Chandrakanth J Halli, Yadgir district Deputy Director of Department of Pre-University, said.
Following weeks of aggressive protests and counter-demonstrations on the issue of religious clothing inside classrooms in many parts of the state, the High Court today ruled that wearing of Hijab is not an essential religious practice of the Islamic faith and a school uniform is a reasonable restriction that students cannot object to.
In an order on February 5, the Karnataka government had banned clothes "which disturb equality, integrity and public order" in schools and colleges.
The students may challenge today's order before the Supreme Court.
"The constitution allows us the right to profess our religion. We are shaken, we expected so much. We will not go to college without the hijab," the girls told reporters, vowing to fight the verdict.