Muslim woman asked to remove hijab during Hindi exam by school in Tamil Nadu

Shabana told TNM that she had appeared for Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha exams at the same centre earlier this year as well and was not asked to remove her hijab.
Muslim woman asked to remove hijab during Hindi exam by school in Tamil Nadu
Muslim woman asked to remove hijab during Hindi exam by school in Tamil Nadu
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A Muslim woman who appeared for a Hindi exam at the Annamalai Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Tiruvannamalai’s Somasipadi was allegedly asked to remove her hijab by the principal and correspondent while writing the exam on Sunday, August 20. The exams were conducted by Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha. Paper 1 was scheduled from 10 am to 12.30 pm while the second one was from 2 pm to 4.30 pm. 

Shabana, an Arabic teacher, who works at a private school, appeared for the Hindi Madhyama exams on Sunday in the 10 am slot. Fifteen minutes after the exam began, she was asked to remove her hijab to continue her exams. Shabana, who refused to do so, asked the invigilator the reasons. She was told that as per the instructions, she was supposed to write the exams without a hijab. 

According to Shabana, the school principal and correspondent came to her exam hall and warned her that she would not be allowed to write the exam if she failed to remove her hijab. Shabana told TNM that she reiterated that she would not remove the hijab and insisted that she would write the exams. “Later, they grabbed my hall ticket and went to their respective offices. I was made to run to the office to explain that I had appeared for the Hindi Prathamic exams at the same exam centre earlier this year and there was no such instruction given to me,” she said. 

The school management had responded to her saying that it was the rule to be followed and it cannot be changed for her. I was there at the office till 2 pm when the exam for the second paper had already started, she further added. After the argument with both the principal and correspondent, Shabana said she would not write the exams. “When I told them I wanted to leave, they forced me to write a letter with my residential address along with the details of the school where I work,” she recalled.  

She later described her ordeal with a relative who is an office bearer of the Indian Union Muslim League(IUML). IUML and SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) party leaders then visited the school to know whether such an instruction was given by the Department of Education or the Tamil Nadu Government. TNM has learned that Tamil Nadu School Education Department Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi intervened in the issue and instructed the school to let her complete the exam. 

After this instruction, Shabana was asked to write her exam past 2 pm. “I was asked to complete two papers in the given period. I was already exhausted with arguments and I told them I do not want to write the exams and left the exam centre,” she explained. 

A source at Annamalai Matriculation School said that the dress code was followed based on the instructions given by Hindi Prachar Sabha.

On Monday, August 21, Shabana submitted a petition to the District Collector and also gave a written complaint to the police at the DSP office in Tiruvannamalai alleging discrimination and demanded that action be taken against the principal and the correspondent of the school. 

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