Indian state reopens schools after hijab dispute

Outside some schools in the Indian state of Karnataka on Monday (February 14), Muslim teachers and students removed their hijabs and burkas.

Schools were closed here last week when protests erupted over pupils being banned from wearing the religious headscarves in class.

Police stood guard as students, about a dozen of whom were wearing the hijab, entered a government girl's school in the Udupi district - where the issue first flared.

Here's senior district official Pradeep Kurudekar.

"It has been going on here for quite a while, there are no Hijab issues. The students come wearing their uniform and after entering the gate, they remove their hijabs before going inside their classrooms."

Authorities have also banned gatherings of more than five people within around 650 feet of educational institutions in the area.

Classes from primary to high school have resumed, but colleges remain shut.

The issue has widely been seen by India's Muslim minority as a bid by authorities to sideline them in a Hindu-dominated nation.

A court in Karnataka state last week told students not to wear any religious clothing in classrooms until further notice - including saffron shawls, worn by some Hindus, and headscarves.

Some Muslims protested the move, like this woman in Jaipur on Saturday (February 12).

"We want that the rights given to us in the constitution should not be removed. Our independence should not be snatched away with any excuses. The fundamental rights that have been given to us - if they say that they can dissolve those rights in any way, then we know the conditions as well, but people should not fan such issues and escalate them."

The decision comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prepares for elections in key states.

Modi's party largely gets its support from the majority Hindu community, which makes up about 80% of India's population of roughly 1.4 billion.

Muslims account for13%.