Ayesha Imthiaz, 21, a Muslim college student, wearing a hijab, studies in a room in Udupi, Karnataka, India. Reuters
Ayesha Imthiaz, a devout Indian Muslim who considers wearing a hijab an expression of devotion to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), says a move by her college to expel hijab-wearing girls is an insult that will force her to chose between religion and education.
"The humiliation of being asked to leave my classroom for wearing a head scarf by college officials has shaken my core belief," said the 21-year-old student from southern Karnataka's Udupi district, where protests over the head covering ban began.
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"My religion has been questioned and insulted by a place which I had considered as a temple of education," she told the media.
"It is more like telling us you chose between your religion or education, that's a wrong thing," she said after studying for five years at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial college in Udupi.
Ayesha Imthiaz walks past her college in Udupi, Karnataka state, India, on Friday. Reuters
Several Muslim girls who protested the ban had received threatening calls and were forced to stay indoors, she added.
College officials say students are allowed to wear the hijab on campus and only asked them to take it off inside the classroom.
Udupi is one of three districts in Karnataka's religiously sensitive coastal region, which is a stronghold of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Fists of activists are raised on the backdrop of a banner as they protest in Kolkata. AFP
The stand-off has increased fear and anger among minority Muslims, who say the country's constitution grants them the freedom to wear what they want. Protests over the ban have escalated, with hundreds demonstrating this month in Kolkata and Chennai.
Last week, a judge at the state's high court referred petitions challenging the ban to a larger panel.
The issue is being closely watched internationally as a test of religious freedom guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The US Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) on Friday said the hijab bans "violate religious freedom and stigmatize and marginalise women and girls."
Women hold placards during a protest against hijab ban in Karnataka, on the outskirts of Mumbai. Reuters
In response, India's foreign ministry on Saturday said outside comments over internal issues were not welcome and the matter was under judicial review.
Imthiaz and six other Muslim girls protesting the ban say they are determined to fight for their religious freedom in the face of some hardline Hindu students and even some of their friends.
"It is really hurtful to see our own friends going against us and telling 'I have a problem with you wearing the hijab'...its affected our bonds and mental health," Imthiaz said.
At least 60 officers were injured the previous evening as a furious crowd attacked a police station, set vehicles on fire and burnt down the house of a local lawmaker whose nephew was allegedly responsible for the social media post.
They stopped the bulldozers just outside the entrance of a Hindu temple, about 50 metres (160 feet) from the mosque, and began to retreat, spurring outrage from Muslim residents who said they were being targeted.
The Supreme Court ruled that the site in Ayodhya in northern India, where Hindu mobs destroyed a 460-year-old mosque in 1992, must be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple, subject to conditions.
The SCO is a political and security union of countries spanning much of Eurasia, including China, India, Pakistan and Russia.
The pilot was forced to flee Afghanistan – leaving his young family – and travel to the UK on a small boat because he could find no safe and legal route out of the country . He flew 30 combat missions against the Taliban and was praised by his coalition forces supervisor as a “patriot to his nation”, but claims he has been “forgotten” by US and British forces.
A number of areas in the country, on Tuesday, witnessed light to heavy rain, accompanied by lightning and thunder, because of the country being affected by a surface depression.