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South Delhi Municipal School Says No “Religious Attire” but Okays Turbans

Sabrang India |
The hijab row sparked by right-wing elements in Karnataka has now reached all the way to national capital Delhi.
Image: PTI

Image: PTI

South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Education Committee Chairperson and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor Nitika Sharma, has written to school officials to ban “religious attire” inside educational institutions, reported Indian Express on February 25, 2022. It is noteworthy that while the letter uses the generic term “religious attire”, Sharma told IC this does not include Sikh turbans.

The Dwarka councillor’s letter stated that children studying in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation already have uniforms in which “they look very beautiful”. According to Sharma, the school that undroges colour changes from time to time removes the inferiority complex between rich and poor students. However, this feeling of equality can be ruined by children who come to school wearing their religious attire, claimed the letter. She claims, she wrote the letter to ensure that no discriminatory incident occurs in the jurisdiction.

In the letter, Sharma referred to the Tukhmirpur school incident wherein a Class 6 girl was forcibly removed from class for wearing a hijab. This incident occurred in North-East Delhi, a region that bore the brunt of the February 2020 pogrom that left many Muslim families hapless, their homes in ruins. The hijab row originated in Karnataka’s Udupi when a right-wing students organisation demanded that Muslim women remove their scarves before entering classrooms.

According to Indian Express, Sharma asked all zonal officers to ensure students be present in school uniform alone on regular days. Yet, despite talking about equality, Sharma said this rule does not extend to Sikhs wearing turbans because that is “needed to tie hair”.

Back in Karnataka, where the whole controversy began, a 17-year-old Amritdhari (baptised) Sikh girl was asked by her college to remove her turban around February 24. However, this act of excluding religious headgear was undertaken after an order from the High Court.

In Delhi, neither the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) -led Delhi government, nor local courts have issued any such directives. However, schools in national capitals are divided among Delhi-government-run schools and municipal corporation primary schools. The latter can only continue till Class 5. Nonetheless, this means that the government cannot interfere in the functioning of a municipality-run school. It may also be noted that most-municipal corporations in Delhi are dominated by BJP representatives.

Some netizens called out the school for its discriminatory practice while other defended the decision as an order line with school rules.

Regarding the Northeast Delhi incident, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia during a press conference called it a politicised incident. He said that the government education ministry cares for all children from all religions and castes. According to News18, the concerned school authorities spoke to the student’s parents and resolved the matter. 

Courtesy: Sabrang India

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