Hindu groups want wider ban on hijab

New Delhi, March 19 (KMS): Hindu supremacist groups are demanding restrictions on Muslim girls wearing hijab in classrooms in more Indian states after a court upheld a ban on the headscarf in the Indian state of Karnataka.

Karnataka High Court’s decision, backing the southern state’s February ban on the hijab, has also been welcomed by top federal ministers from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who say students should avoid wearing religious clothing in class.

President of Hindu-first group Akhil Bharat Hindu Maha Sabha, Rishi Trivedi welcomed the court verdict and wanted the same rule to be followed throughout India.

However, critics of the ban say it is another way of marginalizing the Muslim community, which accounts for about 14 percent of Hindu-majority India’s 1.35 billion people.

Leaders of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), said they have asked for a hijab ban in Modi’s home state of Gujarat and would soon write to the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.

VHP’s Gujarat secretary, Ashok Raval said, “The hijab is not allowed in the defence forces, police, and government offices, then why the insistence on hijab in schools and colleges?” “It is an attempt to raise communal tensions.”

Senior BJP leader and vice-president of Udupi Government Pre-University College Development Committee, Yashpal Suvarna, called the girls who approached the Karnataka high court to challenge the hijab ban on college campuses as “anti-nationals” and “members of a terrorist organization”.

Ayesha Hajeera Almas, who had challenged the Karnataka ban in court and is now considering approaching the Indian Supreme Court to get the ban overturned said there is a real fear that the hijab ban will now go national. Almas said, “Increasingly, we feel we are living in an India where its citizens are not treated equally.”