After asking a 17-year-old Amritdhari (baptised) Sikh girl not to wear her turban to class, the Mount Carmel College in Karnataka’s Palace Vasanth Nagar has clarified that they did not disallow her from attending classes in the turban.
The student continues to attend classes in her turban, a statement issued by the college on Thursday, 24 February said.
The college said that the issue started when the deputy director of pre-university education (north), who was visiting the college, noticed a group of hijab-clad Muslim women and had a word with them in his office about the Karnataka High Court's order.
The college clarified,
“The reported incident happened after the girls prevented from wearing the hijab, pointed to another student wearing a turban. In the interest of parity, the Sikh girl was asked about her religious symbol. She explained that the turban was necessary as she had been baptised. Her father wrote to the PUC (Pre-University College) confirming this. We understood the circumstances and supported her decision to wear a turban. "
The college administration added, "The email exchange between her father and college was extremely polite, both sides understanding the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in."
The college requested the Sikh student to remove the turban only once, and had never asked her not to attend classes in it, the statement clarified. The student was asked to remove the turban in accordance with the Karnataka High Court’s 10 February interim order restraining students from wearing “saffron shawls, hijab and religious flags or the likes.”
A college spokesperson has confirmed to The Quint that the student will be allowed to wear her turban even in the future.
'We Have to Only Follow the HC Order': G Sriram
On being asked about the issue, deputy director of pre-university education (north) G Sriram told The Times of India, “The HC order does not say anything about turbans. We should not be dragging in more issues now. We have to only follow the high court order. When I asked the principal, she said the girls are convinced and there are no issues in the college now."
'We Follow Inter-Religious Harmony': Mount Carmel
The college's statement further read, "In our letter to the father, we have specifically mentioned that we believe in an inclusive society and respect all religious practices. According to the vision and mission of the college, we follow inter-religious harmony and have an active inter-religious association."
The Sikh student’s father, Gurcharan Singh, has reportedly said that the incident has shocked his family.
Singh said in a letter to Sri Guru Singh Sabha’s Administrator in Bangalore’s Ulsoor, “My daughter, Amiteshwar Kaur who is a student of PU second year and also President of the college (union) was called by the college authorities and asked her that if she could remove her Dastaar (turban) and then come to college. But on this, she politely refused to do so as she is an Amritdhari Sikh.”
Adding that the Karnataka government needs to clarify on the issue, Singh says that college authorities were checking for Muslim girls for removing their hijab and later his daughter was also “singled out and was asked to remove her Dastaar (Turban). Asking a Sikh to remove his/her Dastaar (Turban) is a big insult to a Sikh and entire Sikh community.”
Singh further said, “We also stand by those Muslim girls/women who wants to cover their head with Scarf/Dupatta as a part of their faith and request authorities to allow them to do so as it was already practiced in our country and it does not cause any trouble to other people.”
Meanwhile, Singh, who has been living in Bengaluru has added in his letter, "Dastaar (Turban) is an integral part of a Sikh (men and women), included in five Kakkaars, and we keep them intact with our body at all times considering them as part of our body gifted by Guru Gobind Singh Ji the Tenth Master. (sic)."