Over a dozen Muslim students of Hindu College in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad were on Wednesday not allowed to enter the campus till they removed their burqas, The Indian Express reported.

A group of girls alleged that the college administration forced them to remove their burqas at the entrance gate.

AP Singh, the chief proctor of Hindu College, told the media that the girls will be allowed to enter the college only if they follow a dress code that came into effect on January 1. Wearing burqas inside the college campus is not allowed under the new dress code.

Tension prevailed in the college as the girls questioned the administration’s decision and staged a sit-in protest outside the main gate for nearly 40 minutes. “This [burqa] is very important for us,” said one of the girls identified as Mehak. “We cannot remove it.”

In a video from the college accessed by Scroll.in, another student alleged that the college authorities did not even allow them to carry out official work, like submitting forms, without removing the burqas.

The Hindu College is one of the oldest educational institutions in western Uttar Pradesh. The college is affiliated to the Rohilkhand University in Bareilly.

On Wednesday, activists of the youth wing of the Samajwadi Party joined the girls in opposing the college’s new dress code.

“When Sikhs are allowed to enter any college wearing turban with kirpan, why then sartorial rules are meant to restrict only Muslim women?” asked Aslam Chaudhary, chief of the Samajwadi Party’s Moradabad youth wing. “We will continue to agitate against the move.”

The Samajwadi Party also submitted a memorandum demanding that the burqa be included in the college’s dress code and allow girls to wear the veil while attending classes.

The chief proctor, however, insisted that students will have to follow the dress code.

“Students of any religion will be given admission in the college with the prescribed dress code,” Singh added, ANI reported. “A girl’s changing room has been constructed at the college’s gate where the students can remove the burqa before entering.”

Karnataka hijab ban

Last year, the Karnataka government had also issued an order asking students to only wear the uniform prescribed at their schools and pre-university colleges. If a uniform was not prescribed, it asked students not to wear any clothing that would disturb “equality, integrity and public law and order”.

This order was passed after several hijab-wearing girls in the state were denied entry into their educational institutions. The move had led to widespread protests across the country.

On March 15, the Karnataka High Court upheld the government order. The judgement was then challenged before the Supreme Court.

The petitioners’ argued that the ban on hijab affected the fundamental rights of Muslim students, guaranteed under Articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of expression), 21 (right to privacy and dignity) and 25 (right to religion and conscience) of the Constitution.

In October, the Supreme Court had delivered a split verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court order. Justice Hemant Gupta upheld the ban on the hijab, saying this was a “reasonable restriction” that promoted uniformity and discipline. However, the other judge on the bench, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, said that stopping anyone from wearing the veil hurt their dignity, privacy and freedom of conscience as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Also read:

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  2. Hijab debate: In Iran and in India, Muslim women are fighting for control of their bodies