Karnataka institutions target Sikh students wearing turban

A private school in Mangaluru has come under fire for reportedly denying admission to a six-year-old Sikh boy because he was wearing a `patka' turban, while a college in Bengaluru is facing flak for asking a Sikh girl to remove her dastar

A private school in Mangaluru, has come under fire for reportedly denying admission to a six-year-old Sikh boy because he was wearing a `patka' turban

Educational institutions in Karnataka are embroiled in yet another controversy and this time it has to do with the Sikh turban.

In an effort to abide by the Karnataka high court’s interim order on the hijab row, a private school in Mangaluru, has come under fire for reportedly denying admission to a six-year-old Sikh boy because he was wearing a `patka’ turban. The district Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which is investigating the matter has directed the NGO Childline, which works for the protection of all children, to submit a report.

Meanwhile, the CWC told the media this incident has happened because of the school management’s “knee-jerk reaction” to HC’s interim order on wearing hijab (scarf) inside the classrooms. The CWC also said that students from the Sikh community were allowed to wear ‘patka’ (a cloth head cover) and ‘kara’ (steel bangle or bracelet).

The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, which tried to intervene in the matter was told by the school management that it would take a final decision about admitting the student on February 28.

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Also read: Hijab is not an essential religious practice, Karnataka govt tells HC

The Karnataka HC, which is currently hearing the hijab row controversy, in its recent interim order had restrained all the students in the state from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab and carry any religious flag inside the classroom. On Wednesday (February 23) too, the HC stressed that the students will wear the uniform prescribed by the schools and colleges until the disposal of the case.

“We are making it very clear that whether a degree college or a PU College, if a uniform has been prescribed, that has to be followed so long as the matter is pending before the court,” said Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi in the hearing.

Meanwhile, in Bengaluru, Mount Carmel college authorities got into a sticky situation, when a Amritdhari (baptised) Sikh girl was asked to remove her turban in line with the Karnataka HC’s interim order on the hijab row and she refused.

The college authorities said they had informed the students about the court order when the educational institution reopened on February 16.

However, when the deputy director of pre-university education visited the college earlier this week, he found a group of girls wearing the hijab. He called them and asked them to abide by the Court order.

The girl’s father Gurcharan Singh shot off a letter to Sri Guru Singh Sabha’s administrator in Bengaluru’s Ulsoor in which he said that his 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 to remove her Dastaar (turban) and then come to college. But she politely refused to do so as she is an Amritdhari Sikh, he wrote.

Pointing out that Karnataka government needs to clarify the issue, Singh said that while the college authorities were checking for Muslim girls to get them to remove their hijab, 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.”

According to the college administration, the girls wearing hijab had demanded that if they were not allowed to wear their religious symbols, the Sikh girl also should not be allowed to wear the turban. “We spoke to the girl’s father and later mailed him. We informed then about the order and told them to abide by it,” said a Times of India report.

Media reports stated that the girl’s family has decided that their daughter will not remove the turban and is seeking legal opinion since the HC and government order does not mention the Sikh turban.

The college has now clarified that the issue was resolved after the Sikh girl’s father wrote to the PUC college administration.

“We understood the circumstances and supported her decision to wear a turban. The email exchange between her father and college was extremely polite, both sides understanding the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in. The matter sould have ended there, as the student in question continues to attend class even today, wearing her turban to class,” the college said in a statement.

 

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