After student protests broke out in Moradabad’s Hindu College over ban on entry of students wearing the Burqa, the college authorities have clarified that this isn’t a hijab ban but only a burqa ban.
Hindu College, which is one of the oldest colleges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, has a total of over twelve thousand students enrolled in its multiple courses, many of whom are Muslims. Ruckus ensued when on 1 January, a new dress code— a uniform of grey and white —was sanctioned by the university authorities for its students. The dress code began being imposed properly by the third week of January, when burqa-clad students were stopped from entering the university premises, following which many sat on protests challenging the rule.
The incident was widely reported as being a ‘hijab ban’, drawing parallels with the Karnataka hijab ban imposed across the state’s government schools and colleges.
However, days after the protests erupted, the university authorities have clarified that Muslim students can take off their burqa in the common room, and then go to their classrooms with their hijab on.
Speaking to The Quint, AP Singh, the chief proctor of the Hindu college said, “the common room has been built just inside the college gate. It provides the students with the safety and privacy to take off their burqa and go to their classes. They can keep their hijab on in the class. There is no restriction on the hijab in the classrooms.”
Singh also said that the university has many Muslim students and “isn’t discriminating against anyone.”
“We have not had a uniform before this. So, it’s natural that some students might take some time to adjust. But the uniform isn’t meant to be used to discriminate against anyone, including hijabi students,” he said.
'Taking Off Burqa Outside Gate Was Disrespectful': Students
Protests were led by a section of students as well as the leaders of the ‘Samajwadi Chatra Sabha’, the youth wing of the Samajwadi Party. Pictures and videos of the protests had gone viral on social media last week.
The students had alleged that they were stopped from entering into the university premises.
“Students were being stopped at the gate just because of their clothing. We had a problem with that and so took it up with the college authorities. They agreed to allow students with hijab to enter the classes, and said that they have to take off their burqa in the changing room inside the college,” said Aslam Chaudhry, the Moradabad district leader of the Samajwadi Chatra Sabha. “The students seem to be fine with that so we have no issues either.”
The students said that taking off the burqa outside the university gate was becoming cumbersome and seemed disrespectful. “I came to fill my forms a few days ago but was asked to take off my burqa outside the gate. It was very humiliating to take off my burqa at the gate like this, even with the uniform underneath,” one of the students said.
However, with the common room, also known as the changing room, now put in place, the protests are simmering down. “We have no problem in adhering to the uniform rules. We can do that while wearing the hijab, and as long as we are not asked to remove burqa at the gate and can take it off within closed quarters, we have no problem,” the student added.
Moradabad’s Hindu college was established in 1911 as a middle school and was subsequently converted into an intermediate college and then a post-graduate college in 1950. It is affiliated to Bareilly’s J. P. Rohilkhand University and sees a footfall of thousands daily. Viral posts claiming that there has been a ‘hijab ban’ in the college have been doing the rounds. Last year, Karnataka saw widespread protests across districts against the state-imposed hijab ban, which was followed with the Karnataka High Court upholding the ban. The Supreme court, however, pronounced a split verdict on the matter.