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Mumbai: Burqa ban back in Chembur college

Updated on: 18 May,2024 06:59 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

SYBSc student sends legal notice to institute, which had barred pupils in religious attire from campus last year

Mumbai: Burqa ban back in Chembur college

The NG Acharya and DK Marathe College of Arts, Science and Commerce on August 3, 2023. File pic

Burqa, niqab, hijab or any part of dress that reveals religion like badge, cap and stole is to be removed as soon as you come by going to the common room,” states a circular issued by NG Acharya and DK Marathe College of Arts, Science and Commerce on a student WhatsApp group. A year after creating controversy over barring the burqa and hijab on campus, the college in Chembur has backed the restriction yet again this year.

While colleges have been justifying the restrictions, citing a common dress code, the issue has not gone down well with the community. Shaikh Nazreen Bano Mohd Tanzim, a SYBSc student, has sent a legal notice to the college.

Last year, in August Std XII students were denied entry to the college premises. They were told that they were not allowed to wear the burqa or niqab over their uniform due to the college’s new uniform policy. The matter came to light after an NGO sought an explanation from the college’s principal. The NGO, Exa Education Foundation, had alleged such episodes would only prevent Muslim girl students from opting for higher education.

The message

The circular, dated May 1. 2024, reads: “Dear students of SY and TY, admissions for next academic year 2024-25, will soon begin in online mode. Be prepared to take admission. For the academic year starting June 2024, a dress code applies to all students. You must wear only formal and decent dress in college. You can wear full shirt or half shirt, normal trouser. Girls can wear any Indian dress. Burka, nikab, hijab or any part of dress which reveals religion like badge, cap, stole is to be removed as soon as you come, by going to common room on the ground floor which is beside the dept of chemistry. And then only you shall move around the college. One day in a week, on Thursday, there must be relaxation in the dress code, however maintaining decency in dress will be must (sic).”

In her notice to the college Principal Dr Vidyagauri Lele dated May 15, Nasreen Bano has demanded that the rule be revoked, alleging it infringes on the rights of Muslim girls studying in the college.

Student’s notice

The notice reads: “Muslim girls wearing hijab have their fundamental rights enshrined under Article 21 of the constitution of India, where the right to wear any dress is a natural extension of personal freedom guaranteed by the constitution and a facet of fundamental right under Art 21, Banning students from wearing hijab also infringes their rights enshrined under article 14 (right to equality), article 19 (1) right to choice and freedom of expression & article 25 (1) right to religion, she has the right to wear what she likes, however not allowing them without Hijab is restraining them from their rights, Degree colleges have no uniforms and the state Education Policy doesn’t restrict hijab in Maharashtra, similarly the UGC have not made any norms regarding this and going against the state education policy and UGC your college authority is going against the rule of law thus it puts a light of hatred on your institution because of your demeanour towards the students. Restricting students from education & hurting the religious sentiments of these Muslim girls is against law. We urge your management to revoke this decision this is the second time that this issue has been raised after last year’s incident, your failure to not change this decision in a time frame of 15 days, we shall be moving to high court under article 226 of the constitution of India to fight for our rights (sic).”

Advocate Saif Alam said, “We want the college principal and management to clarify why Muslim girls studying in this college are being subjected to such a dilemma. Last year too, junior college students faced issues. Restricting Muslim girls from wearing burqas is denying their right to wear what they want. 

Neither the UGC nor the university has stipulated such a rule so why is the college management so adamant about it? We have sought clarification and asked them to revoke this rule, failing which we will take legal action.”

Nasreen Bano told mid-day, “The college says we should change any part of the dress that reveals religion. Would they ask Sikh students to remove their turbans or girls to remove their bindis? That would be disrespecting them and their religion, right? By asking us to remove our burqas, niqabs and hijabs before entering the classroom, isn’t that disrespecting our religious practice?”

Principal’s response

Dr Lele told mid-day, “Yes, we have received the legal notice and as per the directions from  our management, we will reply to it. They are misinterpreting the circular and misleading the student community. The circular only states that any dress that reveals religion will not be allowed on the campus. We have not restricted entry. We are just saying that students can come wearing any such dresses but as soon as enter the campus, they will have to remove them in the common room. This is to remove cultural and religious differences in the campus.”

May 1
Day circular was issued

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