The Karnataka High Court’s verdict to uphold the ban on hijab in educational institutions in the state makes them feel betrayed by their own country, said the Muslim girls who had filed a petition against the decision, NDTV reported.

“It is total injustice what we got today,” one of the petitioners said at a press conference. “We had so much hope in our judicial system, society...But we feel we have been betrayed by our own country.”

The petitioner said that Muslim women had been denied their fundamental rights. She added that the matter should have been resolved at the local level, but has now taken on “political and communal overtones”.

The petitioner said that the hijab is “an important aspect of our religion” and that the Quran states that a Muslim woman should cover her hair and chest with a veil, News18 reported.

“If this wasn’t mentioned in Quran, we wouldn’t have worn the hijab,” Alia, one of the petitioners, said. “We wouldn’t have struggled if this wasn’t mentioned in the Quran.”

Another women remarked that if BR Ambedkar had been alive today, he “would be crying”, Times Now reported.

“We will not go to the college without hijab but we will fight for it,” a petitioner said, according to PTI. “We will try all the legal ways. We will fight for justice and our rights.”

High Court verdict

Earlier on Tuesday, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi had held that the prescription of a uniform was “a reasonable restriction on fundamental rights”.

In January, Muslim women students from the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi city were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab. The students staged a protest and similar demonstrations were held in other parts of Karnataka too.

On February 5, the state government had passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. Some of the students had approached the High Court challenging the order.

The petitioners had asked for “reasonable accommodation”, saying they should be allowed to wear a hijab in a colour to suit the institutional dress code. But the court ordered that no “reasonable accommodation” could be given for the hijab and that allowing it could lead to “social-separatedness” and go against uniformity.

In February, Hindu students and mobs of men protested against Muslim women wearing hijabs to educational institutes at several places in Karnataka. At some colleges, Muslim students were heckled, while in another case, some men climbed up a flagpole to plant a saffron flag and broke into classrooms.