Hyderabad: School Principal, Teachers Booked in Hijab Row at Hayathnagar School
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Syed Omar Farooq
Hyderabad: A school in Hayathnagar barred two Muslim Class 10 students from wearing headscarves, or hijabs, in classrooms, leading to a series of confrontations between the students and teachers. The students lodged a complaint with the police over alleged harassment and being deprived of their basic right.
Police booked the principal and three teachers of Zee High School, where the alleged incident took place. The girls were allegedly manhandled by their teachers, who refused to allow them into classes with hijabs and forcibly removed the scarves on Friday.
The police said that the incident followed a previous conversation between school principal Purnadevi Srivastava and one of the students, who is the daughter of a judiciary officer, on Thursday, wherein the principal told the girl not to wear the hijab in the classroom.
The students objected, stating that they had a right to cover their heads as per their religious beliefs, Hayathnagar sub-inspector N. Surya, who is investigating the case, said.
The students were not allowed to attend class on Friday, with the principal insisting that they get request letters from their parents.
At noon, the students, who were in the classroom by then, were pulled up by their social studies teacher Kasturi, who asked if they wanted to be discriminated against, as per the police's version of events.
Kasturi asked the duo if they had the principal's permission. They said they did not, but refused to remove the hijab. To this, the teacher said it was against school rules and asked the students to get a letter from the principal, Surya said.
When another teacher tried to remove the students' hijab, the judiciary officer's daughter confronted the teacher and requested them to talk to her parents. The teacher allegedly refused and snatched their phones, as per the girl's complaint to the police.
The principal again confronted them during the lunch break, reiterated her direction for them to remove the scarves, telling them that "religion should be outside of the school and should not be brought inside the school," a police officer said.
The principal reportedly told the students that the school was secular and said that she would also not allow Christian students to wear chains bearing the Cross, the police officer said.
The principal told them that Muslim teachers remove their burqa before entering school. She then tried to forcibly get the students to remove their hijab, warning that they would, otherwise, not be allowed to attend classes. She called in another Class 9 student who was wearing a hijab and told the three of them to remove them.
As they were left standing in the corridor, three teachers, identified as Kavita, Kasturi and Madhuri, took them to a separate room and allegedly tried to take off their hijab forcibly, when the girls got into a physical confrontation to block their attempts, according to the complaint.
They were then allegedly scolded and humiliated by the teachers, the police said.
The girls, upset and hungry, as the principal did not allow them to take their lunch, approached the police and had their statements recorded.
"We received a complaint from the student and registered a case against the principal Purnadevi and three teachers, who restricted the girls from entering the school clad in a scarf," Surya said.
The FIR was registered under Sections 352 (assault or use of force), 295 (a) (deliberate act to outrage religious feelings) and 298 (words meant to hurt religious feelings) of the IPC and Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act, Surya said.
Following the incident, the judiciary officer's daughter took to Twitter and tagged minister K.T. Rama Rao in a post on the incident.
"My kid is brave, following the rules of Indian Constitution's Right to Religious Act. She prays five times a day and knows what is right and wrong. If a judicial officer's children are treated in such a manner for just covering their head, what about normal citizens?" the officer said when contacted by Deccan Chronicle.
This is the second incident reported in the city recently, following one at IS Sadan in Santoshnagar, where college students were not allowed to take their examinations while wearing the hijab. The students protested, following which home minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali assured of action against the private school management.