NEW DELHI: The Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has expressed concern over Muslim women and Sikh men facing “persecution on the pretext of security and frisking” at examination centres and metro stations in the capital.
According to the DMC, such “persecution” has sometimes even prevented members of the minority community from writing exams or boarding a train.
The Sunday Standard contacted a few people who had filed complaints with the DMC in this regard.
‘Hijab’ clad Eram Farooqui, who was to appear for a test by the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board in July, could not do so “despite being properly frisked” by the women security personnel at the exam centre.
“They asked me to remove my headscarf. I did that and was frisked completely. However, they stopped me from entering the examination hall and said I would only be allowed inside without my headscarf. I couldn’t do that as the scarf is part of my religious dress code and I feel uncomfortable without it. I requested them repeatedly to make an allowance, but when they didn’t, I had no choice but leave without taking the test,” said Farooqui, who was to appear for an examination for special educators.
So rattled are the minorities by such incidents that a Delhi resident, Farah Zeba (name changed), filed a preemptive complaint with the DMC, fearing she might be prevented from appearing for the DSSSB examination on Sunday. Farah requested DMC to ensure that she would be allowed to take the examination without having to take off her scarf.
Harminder Singh, a Sikh who carries a kirpan as part of his religious code, was stopped by CISF personnel from entering the Dhaula Kuan Metro Station when he wanted to catch the Airport Express five months ago. Singh, who had a train to catch from New Delhi Railway Station, got delayed for about 20 minutes.
“I repeatedly explained to the CISF official that there are certain specifications for allowing kirpans, given by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation itself. Thankfully my train was late and I managed to catch it. But the harassment left me shaken,” Singh wrote in his complaint to DMC.
DMC Chairman Zafarul Islam Khan said they had received similar complaints in the past too and had been taking up the issue with the authorities.
“Farah’s complaint required immediate attention, so we decided to pass an order in this regard,” he said. The DMC’s order read, “While security precautions are required, but the same should not be used to harm the interests of minority individuals, especially students.”
The DMC cited a 21 July ruling where the Kerala High Court permitted two Muslim girls to wear a headscarf in the exam hall on the condition that they come in 30 minutes early for security check by women invigilators.
“We also wrote to the DSSSB, but have not received any response from them,” he added.
Khan said while security staff is fully within its rights to frisk Muslim women, candidates must be told in advance that they have to present themselves for security check 30 minutes or an hour before the normal reporting time.
The DMC said Article 25 of Constitution allows the Sikhs to carry kirpans, hence they must be allowed to wear kirpans of a reasonable length.