India: As Hijab Row Intensifies, Sikh Girl Is Asked to Remove Turban On College Premises

CC0 / / Muslim woman
Muslim woman - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.02.2022
On 10 February in an interim ruling, the Karnataka High Court restricted pupils from wearing the hijab (the Islamic headscarf for women) or any other form of religious clothing or symbol inside the classrooms in view of protests which had broken out at some places.
As the debate rages on whether wearing a hijab should be permitted within educational institutions, now a Sikh girl pupil in Bengaluru, the capital city of India's Karnataka state, has been asked to remove her turban.
Like Sikh men, "amritdhari" (baptised) women also wear turbans to cover their head.
The 17-year-old pupil of Begaluru's Mount Carmel PU College for Women was asked to remove her turban but she refused to.
Earlier this week, college authorities had informed her father, Gurucharan Singh, of the High Court's interim order barring any religious dress other than the school uniform to be worn and explained to him that they were bound by the court's orders.
In a letter to the college authorities, Singh said: “Asking a Sikh to remove his or her 'dastaar' (turban) amounts to a big insult to a Sikh person, and the entire Sikh community.”
In Sikhism or the Sikh culture, a turban is considered one of the five sacred symbols of the community.
“We also stand by those Muslim girls/women who want to cover their head with a scarf/dupatta as a part of their faith and request authorities to allow them to do so as it was already practised in our country and does not cause any trouble to other people,” Singh added in the letter.
The college authorities, however, said that although they understood how important the turban was for any Sikh, they were not free to defy the High Court's order.
The hijab row kicked off In India's southern state of Karnataka in January after several female pupils wearing the Muslim headscarf were barred from entering their pre-university college. Since then, there have been several protests both supporting and opposing the wearing of the hijab in classrooms.
The official reason for the ban was that the hijab violates the uniform rules at the educational institutions.
Demonstrations by Muslims in several parts of the country escalated into clashes with saffron-clad Hindu students in several places, forcing Karnataka's state authority to shut down educational establishments until 16 February.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court is hearing a number of petitions filed by Muslim students on whether the hijab should be permitted in schools, pre-university (equal to high schools) establishments and university colleges.
On 10 February the court restrained students from wearing "religious clothes", including the hijab, until its next ruling in the matter.
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