Mumbai: Chembur College Now Bans Hijab For Degree Students, Faces Ire

Mumbai: Chembur College Now Bans Hijab For Degree Students, Faces Ire

30 students submitted a letter to the college, urging it to reconsider imposing any dress code; students approached national and state human rights commissions against the ‘diktat’.

Musab QaziUpdated: Thursday, May 16, 2024, 10:03 AM IST
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Mumbai: Chembur College Now Bans Hijab For Degree Students, Faces Ire | | Facebook

Mumbai: After prohibiting Muslim girls in its junior college from wearing hijab and burqa on campus, Acharya Marathe College in Chembur has extended a similar restriction to its degree college.

Earlier this month, the college introduced a ‘dress code’ that, among other things, bans ‘revealing’ dresses and objects of clothing with religious significance, specifically mentioning hijab, niqab and burqa – the customary scarf, face covering and veil donned by Muslim women.

The directive has the institute’s sizeable number of female Muslim students in a state of anguish, who believe that the college is infringing on their personal liberties and religious freedom.

In August last year, the college had stopped junior college (senior secondary section) students wearing hijab and burqa from entering the campus after introducing a uniform – shirt and trousers for boys and salwar, kameez and jacket for girls – for the first time in its 45 years of existence.

Following protests by students, the college allowed them to enter the premises but asked to remove their coverings before going to classrooms. The move had resulted in several Muslim girls leaving the college.

In its new instructions for higher classes, which were circulated in student WhatsApp groups by college staff, the institute said that starting the new academic year in June, the students should only wear ‘formal’ and ‘decent’ clothes. While the male students are required to wear full or half shirts and ‘normal’ trousers, female students have been asked to wear any ‘non-revealing full formal dress’, be it ‘Indian or Western’.

The directive also says that ‘burka, nikab, hijab, or any part of dress which reveals religion like badge, cap, stole’ must be removed in a common room as soon as the student enters the college. Curiously, according to guidelines, the dress code will be relaxed once a week on Thursday.

Several female Muslim students have objected to the restrictions on their customary attire. On Monday, 30 students submitted a letter to the college, urging it to reconsider imposing any dress code.

“The right to choose and profess religion and culture has been enshrined in articles 21 and 25 of the constitution. The decision of the management to impose morality on the students will result in undue stress and loss of studies (sic) in the current academic year,” reads the letter. The students also met with the college principal, but she refused to consider their plea.

The female students have also filed complaints with the national and state human rights commission, where they argued that the college’s decision is discriminatory as the staff has been allowed to wear religious symbols and carry out prayers on the premises, and Muslim students have been barred from wearing their customary clothing.

Ateeque Ahmed Khan, a city educator, who accompanied the students in their meeting with the principal, said that the college is being intolerant. “The principal spoke like an un-educated person, falsely claiming that there are Muslim-managed colleges in the city that require non-Muslim students to wear burqa. When we told her that parents may not allow girls to study without hijab, she bluntly said that if the covering is a barrier in education, they should remove it. We explained that the college can’t impose a particular dress code, as the perception of morality differs from person to person. One has to be tolerant of different cultures and religious identities. This is what India is all about,” he said.

Vidyagauri Lele, the principal, couldn’t be reached on call for a comment despite repeated attempts by FPJ.

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