NCC order bars Muslim students from sporting beard

August 08, 2015 08:30 am | Updated March 29, 2016 02:00 pm IST - HYDERABAD:

The right of Muslim NCC cadets to sport a beard has assumed centre stage yet again, with the A.P. State Minorities Commission issuing notices to the Director-General of NCC seeking explanation on a circular issued two years ago which had forbidden cadets other than Sikhs from growing beard.

The notices were issued in relation to two separate cases filed before the Commission, one by the father of a student from Anwar-ul-Uloom College, who was reportedly turned away by the NCC here for sporting beard, and the other by an NGO, Help Hyderabad.

As per the parent’s complaint, the student who went to the NCC camp organised in June this year was asked by the commander to go back and come clean-shaven. When questioned, he reportedly cited the circular by the DG’s office issued on June 6, 2013. The circular, a copy of which is available with The Hindu , asked the Sikh cadets with long beard to have the beard properly tied and not opened, while summoning all other boy cadets to be clean shaven.

“Despite a number of instructions, the turnout of cdts [sic] and staff during trg [sic] and camps leave much to be desired. There is a need for VCs/COs to issue strict orders on the wearing of uniforms/turnout and correct pattern and usage of accoutrements,” read the order, before listing out the parameters to be followed.

Commission Chairperson Abid Rasool Khan said he had been approached by a group of students from the same college back in June, who complained of the discrimination by NCC.

“When I asked them to lodge a written complaint, they backed out, saying they would like to discuss the issue with their parents. Later on, only one parent came forward to lodge the complaint, followed by the NGO,” Mr. Khan said.

Questions circular

Major S.M. Quadri from Help Hyderabad questioned the circular and pointed out that it went against the constitutional rights of Muslims.

“Instead of encouraging Muslims to join the mainstream, this circular segregates them further. It goes not only against the pluralistic fabric of Indian society, but also against the constitutional tenet of equality. Besides, practising the religion of one’s choice is fundamental right of every person,” he said. The case is posted for further hearing and a reply by NCC on August 27.

Karnataka case

In a similar instance, a group of seven Muslim students from the Bangalore-based Al Ameen college approached the Karnataka High Court in 2013 challenging the NCC’s decision not to allow them to write the exam for ‘C’ certificate because they sported beards.

After the High Court’s intervention, they were allowed to write the exam, but their results were withheld pending the judgment. However, NCC acquiesced during final hearing and released the results of the students.

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