Students protest Srinagar school’s move to allegedly ban ‘Abaya’

School authorities claim students were asked to wear their uniforms under the ‘Abaya’; the young girls have a different version and claim they were denied entry because of ‘Abaya’

Published - June 09, 2023 01:15 am IST - SRINAGAR

Students of Vishwa Bharti Girls Higher Secondary School, Rainawari Srinagar, protest against the school administration for allegedly not allowing students to enter the school premises wearing ‘Abaya’, in Srinagar.

Students of Vishwa Bharti Girls Higher Secondary School, Rainawari Srinagar, protest against the school administration for allegedly not allowing students to enter the school premises wearing ‘Abaya’, in Srinagar. | Photo Credit: ANI

A group of students protested against the administration of Vishwa Bharti Higher Secondary School in Srinagar on Thursday for allegedly banning the use of ‘Abaya’, a long robe used by Muslim female students.

Hitting the streets, protesting students accused the principal of issuing a verbal order “to ban the entry of those students who wear ‘Abaya’”. “I was not allowed to enter the school because I was in ‘Abaya’,” a student said. 

Another protesting student said they started wearing the garment after the school turned co-ed.

Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti opposed the move. “There should be no imposition of a dress code. Students should be free to wear what they want. They (the BJP) started it in Karnataka, now they are trying to implement a dress code in Kashmir. It’s like waging war against a particular community,” Ms. Mufti said.

Facing flak, the school authorities clarified their stand on the ‘Abaya’. “The claims of a ban on students wearing the Abaya are false and unfounded. The school management holds deep respect for the sentiments of all sections of society regarding the dress code,” said the principal in a statement.

The school authorities said the students were politely requested “to wear their school uniform underneath the ‘Abaya’”. She said the college administration “sincerely apologise for any unintentional hurt caused to the sentiments of students or parents”.

The principal also clarified that there was “no higher authority involved”. “I believe a proper dress code should be followed by all. We will announce a proper colour and pattern of ‘Abaya’ for all those students who want to come to school wearing it,” the principal added.

BJP Youth leader Manzoor Bhat also defended the students’ rights to wear ‘Abaya’. “If girls choose to wear an ‘Abaya’ over their uniform for religious reasons, they should be allowed to do so.

It is important to respect individuals’ religious rights as enshrined in Indian law. There has been no order issued by the administration regarding the banning of ‘Abaya’ in schools. We appreciate the concerns raised by the students. We will ensure that their voices are heard and duly considered,” Mr. Bhat said.

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