Passenger makes Bengaluru Muslim bus conductor remove skull cap, despite no such rule

Shortly after a video of a woman passenger questioning a Muslim bus conductor for wearing a green skull cap went viral, the KSRTC clarified that there are no fixed rules about religious identifiers.
Passenger makes Bengaluru Muslim bus conductor remove skull cap, despite no such rule
Passenger makes Bengaluru Muslim bus conductor remove skull cap, despite no such rule
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A video showing a woman passenger demanding that a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus conductor remove his skull cap while on duty, went viral on social media. The incident took place during the first week of July and the footage, shot by the woman herself, captures her repeatedly questioning the conductor, a Muslim man employed in the Shivaji Nagar–Uttarahalli route, about wearing the skull cap during his work hours.

When asked about the prevailing mandates about this, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) chief public relations officer TS Latha said that there are no fixed rules regarding religious identifiers. “The code of conduct for bus conductors and drivers was put in place decades ago and since then, it has not undergone any change or review. The code does not prohibit one from wearing any identifiers, but does not advocate for it as well,” she said. She further said that they are not trying to identify the woman or carry out an investigation.

When TNM reached out to the conductor’s colleagues at the BMTC, many of them within the department seemed unaware of the rules themselves. A few of them said with much conviction that wearing a cap was not allowed with the uniform. “It is true that he had been wearing the cap for many years but our rules strictly prohibit wearing a cap with the uniform. There are other Muslims who also work here, none of them wear one,” said Shrikant, a bus conductor. However, they did not provide a circular or rule book issued by BMTC stating so.

Others said that this was the first time such an incident had occurred and that wearing of religious identifiers has never seemed to be a problem. “It is very unfortunate what happened. He is a dedicated worker and has been wearing the skull cap for many years. This is the first time that such an incident has taken place and the video going viral has upset him a lot,” said Shahbaz (name changed), a police officer stationed at the Shanti Nagar bus depot.

“Most of us Hindus wear a mala, tilak, or other religious identifiers but we have never been told anything by our managers or passengers. No one had any objection to the said conductor wearing a skull cap at our depot and we have a good relationship with him,” said Ashalatha, who worked as a bus conductor.

TNM reached out to the conductor, but the calls went unanswered. He reportedly also did not turn up at work for two days after the incident.

The viral video shows the woman's persistent questioning of the conductor regarding his choice to wear a green skull cap with his uniform while on duty. She argued that government employees should confine their religious practices to their homes and demanded that the conductor remove his cap. Despite the conductor's polite response, explaining that he had been wearing the cap for many years, the woman persisted and threatened to report the incident to the authorities.

Ignoring the conductor's explanation, the woman asserted that wearing the cap for an extended period did not equate to it being a lawful practice and continued to demand he remove the cap. The woman continued her argument until the conductor felt compelled to comply and reluctantly took off his cap.

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