Thiruvananthapuram : The raging row over the dress code imposed by the Central Board of Secondary Education for the All India Pre Medical Entrance Test struck a discordant note in Kerala on Sunday with the Bharatiya Janata Party asking those who opposed the Supreme Court decision on the code to quit their citizenship.
Party’s Kerala unit president V Muralidharan made the controversial demand while reacting to Indian Union Muslim League’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s comment on the plea to allow Muslim girls to appear for the test by wearing ”hijab”.
IUML all-India general secretary E T Mohammed Basheer termed the observation of the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu that “your faith will not disappear if you go to the examination centre without a head scarf” as wrong. He said that the issue entailed faith and the court could not interfere with it.
Muralidharan has viewed this as a challenge to the Constitution and the Judiciary. “If they are living in the country, they should follow the Supreme Court order. Otherwise, they should relinquish their citizenship,” said Muraleedharan.
The Kerala High Court had last week allowed two Muslim girls to sit for the exam wearing hijab, with a rider that they had to turn up before an invigilator for frisking. On Saturday, when the exam was held, a Catholic nun was disallowed to take the exam after she refused to remove the veil and the cross.
The ruling Congress and some of its other partners in the United Democratic Front (UDF) also came down heavily on the authorities for imposing the strict dress code. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran said the decision of the authorities was ”unfortunate”.
“The decision went against the Constitutional right given to citizens to preserve their faith and follow (religious) practices. The central government should take steps to avoid such moves that would hurt the sentiments of the faithful,” he said.
Leaders of various Catholic denominations also took strong exception to the denial of chance to the nun, who had pleaded that she wanted to take the exam with the veil after the frisking. Her plea for a separate room to write the exam without the veil and the cross was also rejected by the authorities at the Kanjiramkulam Jawahar Central School in the city. Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis of Malankara Catholic Church said that the incident involving the nun was ”disturbing” and raises questions regarding the rights of a citizen. “We do not wish to rake up a controversy over the issue but it is disturbing to note that the nun was not allowed to wear her religious paraphernalia even though she was ready to undergo frisking. What is it that is being targeted? Religious symbols or exam malpractices?” he asked. Fr Paul Thelekkat, spokesman of the Syro Malabar Church, termed the denial of permission to write the exam with veil as a violation of her fundamental right.