Amid Hijab Row in India, Sikh Girl Asked to Take Off Her Turban

A 17-year old Amritdhari Sikh girl was allegedly asked to take off her turban while attending class in Mount Carmel College in Palace Vasanth Nagar. The incident is part of the ongoing controversy involving students’ religious garments.

Last year, six Muslim female students were barred from joining their classes after refusing to take off their hijab.

Mount Carmel College denied the allegations stating that the female student could join her class while keeping her turban on. “The student continues to attend classes in her turban,” the college stated.

The college added that the Sikh student’s turban issue was related to the female Muslim student’s hijab ban on school campuses. Since Muslim students in Mount Carmel College were not allowed to wear hijab in their classes, they “pointed to another student wearing a turban.”

The college clarified that they did ask the student to take off her turban but did not bar her from joining her classes. 

On February 10, the three-judge high court in the state of Karnataka declared that the interim order regarding the hijab applies to colleges that have an existing uniform code.

Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, head judge of Karnataka’s high court, explained that the court is still reviewing the matter. “We are making it very clear that whether a degree college or a PU College, if a uniform has been prescribed, that has to be followed so long as the matter is pending before the court,” he said.

The current interim order from the high court rules that students attending classes are only allowed to wear their school uniform.

However, when asked about the issue on the court’s order, Ravindra Konnur, the Deputy Director of the Department of Pre-University Education in Karnataka, said the court’s ruling only included the hijab. Konnur also asked the public and the involved parties not to add complexity to the issue.

“We have to only follow the high court order,” Konnur stated.

As of February 22, Karnataka’s high court is still hearing the petitions submitted by Muslim students for the right to wear hijab in classes. The court stated that petitioners must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, “as to what is compulsory to be followed in Islam.”

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