Ground Reports

Ruckus Outside Uttar Pradesh Post-Graduate College After Management Bars Burqa-Clad Students From Entering Classes

Swarajya Staff

Dec 09, 2022, 01:27 PM | Updated 02:03 PM IST

A still from a video of the incident.
A still from a video of the incident.
  • Members of the Muslim community staged a protest for stopping burqa-clad students from entering classes.
  • A minor controversy erupted in a private post-graduate degree college in Bulandshahr district of western Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday (7 December) after the college allegedly barred some Muslim women students from entering classes for wearing the Islamic veil and not abiding by the uniform. 

    Videos emerged where a group of Muslim men were seen indulging in a heated spat with the college management on behalf of the women. 

    One of them was seen saying that the real issue was that the management did not like “burqa” (a full-body veil exposing only the eyes). Another man was seen asking for a special room to be provided to the women to remove the burqa.

    As per The Times of India, the incident took place in JS post-graduate College in Sikandrabad, and members of the Muslim community staged a “massive” protest against the college authorities, saying the students in ‘hijab’ were sent home and not allowed inside classes. 

    Police had to be called in to maintain peace, the report said.

    A report by Hindi daily Hindustan said that the protests ended after the college assured that they would provide a room to the hijab-clad students. 

    In a video statement, the college principal, Ajay Kumar Sharma, told the media that for the past two weeks, some “outsider” students had been trying to enter the college due to which the management had arranged for stricter checking at the entry gate.

    The college already has a dress code, and the security was checking the dress code more strictly, he said.

    “When some students [in burqa] tried to enter, a teacher, Farzana, asked them to go the girls’ common room to change. That’s all that happened,” he said.

    Asked how the college plans to resolve the issue in near future, the principal gave a vague reply that the college would uphold the dress code.

    A similar controversy was witnessed in December 2021 after some Muslim girl students of a state-run school in Udupi district of Karnataka were stopped from entering classes after they insisted they would not remove their ‘hijab’.

    This veil was a headscarf covering hair, shoulders and neck, even the translation of Arabic word hijab is a ‘curtain’ or ‘partition’.

    The girls moved the Karnataka High Court demanding a special concession to them for wearing ‘hijab’ above and beyond the uniform. That added clothing is an essential religious practice in Islam, they argued.   

    Muslim women student from some more schools and colleges too moved the court with similar pleas, after which the Karnataka High Court heard the bunch of petitions in February and March.

    The court held that state-run educational institutes had the right to enforce dress code, and also held that ‘hijab’ was not an essential religious practice of Islam. 

    The petitioners then moved the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court verdict. 

    Two months ago, the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict where one of the two judges hearing the case dismissed the petitions while upholding the right of the Karnataka state government to enforce uniform in the institutes while another judge said that ‘hijab is a matter of choice’ for the students.

    Even as the petitions are pending to be heard by a larger bench to be formed by the Chief Justice of India, demand for hijab has risen in many schools and colleges outside Karnataka since the apex court verdict. 

    In mid-October, a minor controversy erupted in a college in Bihar after some Muslim girl students accused a Hindu male teacher of forcibly removing their ‘hijab’ during examination.

    The teacher and the principal however refuted the allegations. An eye-witness student, incidentally a Muslim, supported the management, saying that all that the teacher had done was ask the girls to remove their headscarf during routine checking of any Bluetooth devices for cheating, but the girls had made it a communal issue.

    In the last week of November, a hijab versus saffron row, on the same lines as Karnataka, erupted in a state-run school in West Bengal after Hindu students turned up in saffron scarves in protest of special privilege given to Muslim women to sport religious attire. 

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