M Com student Mehak Ansari said, “When there is a changing room then what problem is there with taking off the burqa? It is a falsehood that they are being made to take off the burqa on the road. I wear a burqa to college myself.”
Madhu Mansha, another student, said, “Anyone used to enter the college before as there used to be no ID card checks but now ID is also checked. Now only those with ID cards and the uniform can enter.”
Professor Anand Kumar, who teaches defence studies at the college, said a section of the media ran “misleading stories”. “They wrote that hijab was banned but they don’t know the difference between hijab and burqa. I have been teaching here since 2001.”
Kotwali SHO Viplav Sharma said, “The dress code has remained at the college since long. The media is running misleading news stories saying that the burqa is the issue when nothing of the sort is there.”
However, the protesters, including the Samajwadi Party’s youth wing, alleged that some students were forced to take off the burqa when the changing room was not set up.
Aslam Chaudhary, the district president of the party’s youth wing, and an alumnus of the college, said they only objected to students being compelled to take off the burqa and “never resisted the uniform”. “When there was no changing room here, the girls were made to take off their burqa at the gate. It does not feel right. Our demand was that students should be allowed to wear the burqa to their classrooms and then they can change and go inside. But since they have made the changing room at the gate, our demand has been fulfilled.”
Chaudhary said they had submitted a memorandum to demand a changing room. The memorandum, filed on January 18, does not mention a changing room, but demands that Muslim girls be allowed to enter class in burqa.
SP youth wing’s national secretary Durga Sharma said they had only demanded that “they implement the dress code if it is in the university guidelines”. “When the issue was highlighted, they made the changing room…now that the changing room is there, we have no problem.”
A similar controversy had erupted over the hijab in Karnataka’s Udupi last year. It subsequently led to protests, counter-protests, barring of Muslim students wearing the burqa from several campuses, litigation and several court orders.
The Supreme Court delivered a split verdict in the case last year and the matter is yet to be heard by a larger bench.