Some Muslim students and their relatives held a demonstration at a private college in Jaipur’s Chaksu town on Friday after the girls were not allowed to attend classes wearing burqas, reported PTI.
While the college authorities maintained the girls have begun coming in burqa only for the last four or five days, the students and their parents said the girls have been attending classes in the attire for the last three years and no one had earlier objected.
The incident came amid similar protests in Karnataka where students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College have been agitating since last month after they were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab. On February 5, the Karnataka government passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.
While burqa is a garment that covers the whole body, hijab is a head covering.
On Friday, the students of Kasturi Devi college, where the incident took place, alleged they were stopped from attending classes in burqa or even wearing hijab. The college authorities, however, said they never stopped girls from wearing hijab.
A 20-year-old student told The Indian Express that the college had earlier not objected to them wearing burqas.
“But today morning, the college administration stopped me and some other girls saying we can’t enter the college in burqa,” she told The Indian Express. “We were told to exit the college premises.”
Another student told the newspaper that the college administration said those wearing burqa will not be allowed to attend classes and also threatened that they will be issued transfer certificates.
“We were wearing burqa over our uniforms,” said another student. “Some of us started crying after we were not allowed to enter the college. Some locals who saw us in distress, came to ask the administration about the issue. Soon, police also arrived and the issue was sorted out.”
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The police said the girls’ relatives have also alleged that the college administration did not allow them to wear hijab.
“Ten to 12 Muslim girls of BA first and second year reached the college wearing burqas and the college administration did not allow them to enter the college after which their family reached the college and protested,” Sub Inspector Jitendra said.
He said that the matter was resolved through dialogue.
The college authorities, however, claimed they have never stopped the students from wearing hijab.
“Some of the girls began coming to the college in burqas for the last three to four days,” said Sumit Sharma, the assistant director of college. “Seeing them, some other students too came to the college without uniform on Thursday.”
Sharma said that they then allowed about 50 students to attend classes without uniforms on Thursday.
“Accordingly, we asked them to come to the college in proper uniform,” he added. “Today [Friday], around five girls again came in burqas. When we did not allow them, they called their relatives who gathered outside the college and demonstrated. Ten to 15 of them entered the college and forced us to allow the girls in burqas.”
The college administration said wearing burqas violates the dress code that has been in force for the last six to seven years. It added that this encourages other students to not come in uniform.
In Karnataka, the protest against the hijab ban has spread across the state.
Several groups and individuals, including Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, have condemned the hijab ban. At the same time, Hindu students and mobs of men have been protesting against women wearing hijab in colleges in Karnataka.