Students Protest as School in Srinagar Denies Entry to Girls Wearing Abayas

Srinagar: Authorities at Vishwa Bharathi Higher Secondary School in Srinagar reportedly denied entry to girl students wearing Abayas on Thursday leading to a ruckus. The students in Abayas, marched through the streets of Rainawari quarter, expressing their grievances. They claimed that the school principal told them to remove their Abayas or seek admission in a madrasa. The Abaya, a loose over garment worn by Muslim women in many parts of the world, covers the entire body except the head, feet, and hands.

One of the protesting students, Shugufta (name changed), emphasised that the Abaya symbolises dignity and that their Prophet has instructed them to wear loose garments for recognition and protection. She also mentioned that the recent introduction of coeducation in the school made it even more important for them to wear Abayas and Hijabs.

Statement from Vishwa Bharati Higher Secondary School regarding dress code policy (Image: DC)

The school principal, who chose to remain anonymous, stated that she merely wanted the students to adhere to a proper dress code. She clarified that the school had its own dress code and that girls wearing Abayas and Hijabs were never prohibited from doing so. However, on Wednesday, she instructed the teachers to inform these girls that while they could wear Abayas up to the school gate, they should not wear them within the campus in order to maintain decorum and follow the school's dress code.

Despite this explanation, the protesting students insisted that they were rudely instructed to go to a madrasa if they insisted on wearing Abayas. In an attempt to defuse the situation, the police authorities intervened and held a meeting with the school principal.

In response to the alleged incident, several political parties and religious groups strongly reacted. To avoid further controversy, the school principal assured that the management would soon announce a specific colour and pattern of Abaya that the girl students can wear.

“We are not going to allow any colourful Abayas to be worn by our students. There must be uniformity of dress that the students are in within the campus,” she said. She clarified that the Hijab was not banned in the school and denied having received orders from higher authorities to ask the students not to wear Abayas.

Former chief minister and People's Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, criticised the government for transforming Gandhi's country into a realm reminiscent of Godse's ideology. She opposed the enforcement of a dress code and emphasised that individuals should have the freedom to choose their attire. Mufti accused the government of unleashing an onslaught on their religion, citing the arrest or harassment of religious leaders and the prohibition on wearing Abayas. She expressed that they had tolerated enough since August 5, 2019, and would not tolerate any further infringements.

Tanit Sadiq, the National Conference chief spokesman, took to Twitter to condemn the interference in matters of religious attire and stressed that wearing a Hijab should be a personal choice. He called for immediate corrective action from the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, the Srinagar deputy commissioner, and the city police to prevent the situation from escalating.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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