A series of religious laws promoted by India's ruling Hindu nationalist party in the southern state of Karnataka, including a ban on the wearing of hijabs, is raising concerns the divisive measures will stoke sectarian tensions more prevalent in the country's north.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently banned wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka, the only one of India's five southern states it rules. A proposal to make religious conversions largely illegal is being considered by the local legislature.

The moves have become an issue of contention involving India's Muslim minority. Opposition parties and many political analysts accuse the BJP of fomenting tensions in Karnataka to consolidate its appeal to majority Hindus, like they say it has elsewhere in the country.