The administration of Mount Carmel PU College has said that they only sought an explanation from the student in view of the High Court interim order and that she has been attending class as usual.

Bengaluru college asks Sikh student to remove turban while attending classes
news Hijab row Thursday, February 24, 2022 - 12:15

A Bengaluru college had asked a Sikh student to remove her turban in light of the interim order of the Karnataka High Court. A three-judge Bench is hearing a batch of pleas against the hijab ban on campuses and had passed an interim order on February 10, barring students from wearing religious attire in institutions where there is an existing uniform mandate. Citing this, Mount Carmel PU College asked the 17-year-old student, who is an Amritdhari Sikh, if she could remove her turban while attending classes.

The student’s father, Gurucharan Singh, said the issue first cropped up on February 16, when the college administration politely asked his daughter if she could remove her turban while sitting in the classroom. “But she explained that she has been baptised (as an Amritdhari Sikh). It is an integral part of our faith and we never go out without wearing the turban. That day itself I had sent the college administration an email and explained to them the five Kakars, which are an integral part of our faith,” he told TNM. 

While he did not get a reply to his email from the college, he said that his daughter was allowed to attend classes as usual. However, the issue came up again, when on Wednesday, February 23, officials from the Education Department visited the college to enforce the High Court interim order. 

“Yesterday (Feb 23), my daughter called me saying that the college authorities wanted to meet me,” he said. But since Singh was busy, he asked if they could have a telephone conversation. “They called me and they referred to the High Court interim order and said that they have to abide by that and asked if my daughter can attend classes without the turban. I explained to them that it is not a cap that can be removed and worn back. I told them that nowhere in the High Court order it is mentioned that turbans are also not to be allowed. So I asked them to get some clarity from the authorities.”

He further added that during the entire period his daughter has been studying in the college she has never been asked to remove her turban and was allowed to attend classes as usual. Incidentally, the student is also the president of the student body. 

“Some other students may have targeted the turban. I think people should fight for their rights as per the Constitution but not target others. I understand that now the government authorities have given clarity that the turban is not restricted by the High Court order,” Gurucharan Singh said.

Meanwhile, Mount Carmel PU College administration has said that the student was never asked to remove the turban but only asked to explain her position as questions were raised by some other students in view of the interim order. “Actually there is no issue and we just had a discussion in light of the High Court interim order. We never insisted that she had to remove the turban. Only two students, who were vocal about their right to wear hijab, asked if the turban, bangles and chains could be allowed. We never even brought up the issue ourselves.” Sr M Genevieve, an administrator of the college, told TNM. 

She added, “The Sikh student has never been asked to sit out of class. We understand that she has been baptised and wearing a turban is an integral part of her way of life. Her father had written to us and explained to us how they are exempted from wearing helmets as well.”

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