A group of students and their parents protested outside the NG Acharya and DK Marathe College in Mumbai’s north eastern Chembur area on Wednesday after the junior college denied entry to students wearing burqas or hijabs over their uniforms.

The college has, this year, introduced uniforms for Class 11 and 12 students. Burqas, hijabs, skull caps and headscarves have been prohibited, said a Class 11 student.

On August 1, the Class 11 student said she was stopped from entering the college gates because she wore a burqa over her uniform. Since that day, the administration has not allowed students to enter the college unless they wear the uniform – for girls, an off-white salwar suit.

“Most of the students in my class are Muslims,” the student said. “When the college introduced uniforms, we agreed to wear them. Our parents only had a conditon that headscarves must be allowed.”

According to Faizan Qureshi, shakha pramukh of the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction), the students do not mind wearing the uniform. “They have paid the college for the uniform as well,” he said.

A large number of students in the college are residents of the Govandi and Shivaji Nagar slums, where many Muslims live. “If they are not allowed to enter in a burqa, many may be forced to stop their education,” Shaikh said. The college is the nearest option for junior college for the slum-dwellers.

A resident of Shivaji Nagar, Bilal Shaikh, pointed out that the students had only requested that they be allowed to enter the college and then change out of their burqas in the washroom. “They were not comfortable removing it in public and on the road,” said Shaikh. “But the college authorities refused.” Finally on Wednesday, students began to protest outside the college gates, Shaikh said.

According to Sudarshan Honwadajkar, senior police inspector in Govandi station, when the police reached the protest site on Wednesday, they held a meeting with the principal, parents, students, and teachers.

“The principal has agreed to allow them entry,” Honwadajkar told Scroll, adding that no complaint has been filed in the matter. “A separate room will be provided to girls to remove their burqa before they enter the classroom. From next year, the college will make the uniform compulsory.”

The senior police inspector added that the college did not have an objection to the hijab or the burqa in particular. “They had announced uniform for all students of junior college from this year,” he said. “Anyone without the uniform was denied entry.” Students of the undergraduate courses are allowed to enter in hijabs, he added.

While the police claimed that students in hijab or burqa will be allowed to enter college gates, both Qureshi and Shaikh said that the students have been told that this arrangement was temporary, and that after 10 days, the college would take a call on whether it would continue.

College vice-principal Jayashree Jangle did not respond to calls or texts.