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Hijab Row Reaches UP, Students Denied Entry to College In Moradabad

Fresh controversy over wearing hijab-burqa erupted at Hindu College, Muslim girls alleged that college administration compelled them to remove burqa at entrance gate

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Lucknow: The hijab controversy that erupted in a pre-university college in Karnataka has now hit a college in Uttar Pradesh.

As per official information, the fresh controversy over wearing hijab-burqa erupted at Hindu College in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad district on Thursday after a group of Muslim girl students arrived at the college wearing hijab to attend the class. The girls alleged that the college administration compelled them to remove the burqa at the entrance gate. However, the college administration claimed despite the prescribed uniform code for students, they came in burqas.

The college proctor, SP Singh said the dress code for students here had been implemented and anybody who refuses to follow it will be barred from entering the campus. Subsequently, members of the Samajwadi Chatra Sabha submitted a memorandum to include the burqa in the college’s dress code and allow the girls to attend their classes wearing it.

Meanwhile, the girls, later led by some student unions, staged a dharna outside the gate in protest against the decision by the college management. Sensing that the matter could snowball into a major controversy, the college's principal, Satya Vrat Rawat swung into action.

However, the college administration remained adamant about sticking to the uniform code for students. The uniform code for students was implemented in the college in January.

"All the students are strictly told that they will be allowed only in proper uniform in the college. The decision to implement the dress code in the college was taken in October 2022. At that time, a suggestion from different student unions was taken and everybody agreed on this," Satya Vrat Rawat, principal of Hindu College told NewsClick.

A student who was denied permission to enter, on the condition of anonymity told NewsClick, "There was no dress code earlier. We have never heard of it. If it is mandatory then there must be a changing room as well for girls in the college and is it morally right to remove our hijab at the entrance gate of the college that too in front of a crowd?"

Another student said they have grown up wearing Hijab since their childhood and they cannot give it up. “I will not write the exam and I will go home," the girl told reporters. “Even the college administration is asking former students to show identity cards and remove hijab at the college gate if someone is visiting for some official work. From where she will bring the uniform when it was never applicable," she asked.

Meanwhile, the college administration agreed to arrange for changing rooms in the college for the girls who can change their hijab and join classes but nobody will be allowed in hijab in the classroom.

Aslam Chowdhary, president of the Moradabad Youth Wing of the Samajwadi Party (SP) told NewsClick, "This new rule of the college is surprising. The decision was taken to harass a specific community at the behest of a particular political party. There is a hidden political motive behind this. When Sikhs are allowed to enter any college wearing a turban with a kirpan, then why are these rules only for restricting Muslim women? We will continue to oppose the move by the college restricting Muslim girls to remove hijab in the college."

The SP leader gave a memorandum to the college administration with multiple demands.

"The college administration has agreed to arrange a changing room for the girls where they have to remove their hijab and can join the class in the prescribed dress code. Now the question arises of how around 6,000 girls can use one or two changing rooms at a certain time. There will be chaos among girls outside the changing room," he further added.

Hindu college is one of the largest Post Graduate (PG) colleges in the district where nearly 12,000 students are enrolled. The college is associated with Rohilkhand University, Bareilly.

A row over wearing hijab at educational institutions began in India on January 1, 2022, when Muslim students studying in the government pre-university (PU) college in Karnataka’s Udupi were barred from wearing the hijab on campus. The college administration stated that they were following the state government’s orders. A day later, six students were suspended for protesting.

Over the following weeks, the dispute spread to other schools and colleges across the state, with groups of Hindu students staging counter-protests by demanding to wear saffron scarves.

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