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Bengaluru college reverses decision, allows baptised Sikh girl to wear turban during exams

Mount Carmel PU College had asked girl to not wear turban in the 'interest of parity' after two hijab-clad students alleged they were singled out for wearing religious garments. 

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Bengaluru: Two days after it barred an “amritdhari (baptised)” Sikh student from wearing a turban to class, a prominent women’s college in Bengaluru Thursday said it had reversed its decision. The reversal, the college said, came after they understood “her circumstances” following an exchange with her parents. 

Mount Carmel PU College had Tuesday asked the girl to take exams without her turban in the “interest of parity” after two hijab-clad students alleged they were singled out for wearing religious garments. 

The two students had been pulled up by an invigilator that day for wearing hijabs during exams at a time when the Karnataka High Court is hearing petitions challenging a 4 February state government order that obliquely backed a ban on hijabs prescribed by a government college in Udupi. 

The Bengaluru college said the Sikh girl’s parents explained to them why the turban was intrinsic to her after her baptism, and she was thus allowed to wear it to class. 

“The incident happened after 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,” the college said in a statement to ThePrint.

“Her father wrote to the PUC (pre-university college) administration confirming this. We understood the circumstances and supported her decision to wear a turban.”

College authorities said the email exchange with her parents was cordial. “The matter should have ended there, as the student in question continues to attend class even today, wearing her turban to class,” the statement added. 

Also Read: Amidst ongoing Hijab row, ‘murder’ of Bajrang Dal activist creates further tension in Karnataka

‘We don’t allow clothing that covers the ears during exams’

Sources from the college said an email about the Sikh student being disallowed from wearing her turban to class was sent to her parents Tuesday. 

“All our students were writing an exam and an external invigilator pulled up two Muslim students for wearing hijabs even as the high court was hearing a petition on it,” a senior faculty member of the college, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint. 

“The students registered their protest over being singled out when another Sikh student, who didn’t wear a turban earlier, was wearing it now. For the sake of being fair to the two Muslim students, we asked the Sikh girl to follow the high court order,” the faculty member added.

While the high court, in an interim order, has asked students of educational institutes with a dress code to refrain from wearing religious garments on campus, several other schools and colleges have also instructed students to follow the high court order.

“The Sikh girl started wearing a turban only recently, following her baptism,” the faculty member said. 

Following an email correspondence with the pre-university student’s father, the college allowed her to attend classes and sit for exams Thursday while wearing her turban.

“As a policy at our college, we don’t allow any clothing that covers ears during examinations. This is because of past experiences where students would use Bluetooth earphones to cheat in examinations. This policy was put in place since before the row over the hijab took centrestage,” a source from the college told ThePrint.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: The politics behind Karnataka’s hijab row: Sliding Congress, rising SDPI, combative BJP


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