A 17-year-old Sikh girl was instructed by her college to remove her turban in compliance with its dress code and the interim ruling of the Karnataka High Court, as the debate over permitting hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka continues. Students were previously prohibited from “wearing saffron shawls, hijab and religious flags or the like in classrooms of colleges which have prescribed a uniform” according to the court.
On February 16, the president of the students’ organisation of Mount Carmel PU College in Bengaluru was requested to remove her turban for the first time, which she rejected. Later, the college spoke with her father, explaining that they recognised the significance of the turban for a Sikh but were obligated by the law.
In an email to the parents, MCC stated, “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 . For your information , we also have an active inter religious association . We were delighted to hear that you are an active member of the inter religious group at Ashirwad. We understand that the turban is an integral part of Sikh men / women and we do respect your belief. As a PU College with an uniform dress code , we have to abide by the High Court Order. We want to bring this to your notice and request you to kindly cooperate in order to maintain peace and harmony.”
Gurcharan Singh, the student’s father responded by saying, “Thanks for your mail, as mentioned in my earlier mail, I have gone through this order and this High court order does not mention anything about Sikh Turban, it should not be misunderstood. However I am also in touch with our community advocates and various organisations. I am sure none of us wants to spend time on such matters and we should focus on education and personality development which is the core objective of the institution. I hope you would consider this case and oblige by allowing her with her turban to attend the classes.”