On Wednesday, a student accused the management of denying entry to students wearing a burqa. Management says miscreants are creating controversy.

A burqa-wearing woman staring into the camera, surrounded by two other women in burqaImage for representation/Pixabay
news Controversy Thursday, February 10, 2022 - 14:58

A day after allegations were made against Sweekaar Academy of Rehabilitation Sciences (SARS) Hyderabad, Telangana that the institution was denying entry of women wearing a burqa, the chairman of the institution clarified they had never discriminated against Muslim students or tried to impose restrictions on them. Speaking to TNM, the chairman of the SARS, Hanumanth Rao said, “Students continue to wear hijab in the institution, there was never any restriction on it. For years, the practice has been for the students to come to the institution wearing a burqa, remove it in the changing room and continue with their classes wearing a hijab.”

While burqa is a full garment covering the body from head to toe, hijab is a veil covering only hair and neck. Hanumanth Rao justified the restriction against burqa saying, “Many Muslim women come to our institution wearing a burqa, so how can we identify who is a student, who is a staff and who is a patient’s attender? Besides, it is impractical to treat the children with intellectual disability by wearing a burqa. They will not cooperate.” 

The chairman has rubbished the controversy as a ‘non-issue’ created by some miscreants to defame the institution. “The institution has never faced this kind of bad press. We have been defamed because of a few miscreants. The Muslim students themselves had offered their testimony that they were never asked to remove their hijab. We don’t intrude or impose restrictions on the religious practices of individuals,” Hanumanth Rao said.

On Thursday, in the presence of police and media, a meeting was held in the institution, located near Patny, Secunderabad. At the meeting, Muslim students told the media that the management had not allowed burqa inside the premises but no restrictions were made against wearing a hijab. 

The issue blew up following a complaint by a first-year student who identified herself as Fatima on Twitter. Taking to the microblogging website on Wednesday, February 9, the student who is reportedly pursuing Bachelors of Education in Special Education in SARS, charged that the chairman was targeting students based on their religion, for not allowing students to wear a burqa. The issue snowballed into a major controversy as several are agitated by the ongoing controversy in Karnataka, where Muslim students wearing hijab have been denied entry into the college. Students from the Hindu community demanding ‘uniformity’ have threatened to wear saffron scarves if Muslim students continue to wear hijab in educational institutions. As violence and agitation broke out in several colleges in Karnataka, the government closed down high schools and colleges for three days

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, February 9, the Karnataka High Court referred the batch of petitions pertaining to hijab-wearing students being denied entry into colleges, to a larger bench as it has raised ‘constitutional questions of seminal importance.’

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