DMC takes note as mi­nori­ties face check­ing has­sles

Sunday Express - - INDIA - SANA SHAKIL

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 na­tional Cap­i­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to the DMC, such “per­se­cu­tion” has some­times even pre­vented mem­bers of the mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity from writ­ing ex­am­i­na­tions 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 (DSSSB) in July, could not do so “de­spite be­ing prop­erly frisked” by the women se­cu­rity per­son­nel at the ex­am­i­na­tion 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 re­quest- ed 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.

In fact, so rat­tled are the mi­nori­ties by such in­ci­dents that a Delhi res­i­dent, Farah Zeba (name changed), filed a pre­emp­tive com­plaint with the DMC as she feared that 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 ex­am­ina- tion without hav­ing to take off her scarf.

Har­min­der Singh, a Sikh who car­ries a ‘kir­pan’ (small dagger) as part of his re­li­gious code, was stopped by Cen­tral In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity Force (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 at Dhaula Kuan as it took a lot of ef­fort to con­vince CISF of­fi­cials to al­low him to board the train with his ‘kir­pan.’

“I re­peat­edly ex­plained to the CISF of­fi­cial that there are cer­tain spec­i­fi­ca­tions for al­low­ing ‘kir­pans’, given by the Delhi Metro Rail Cor­po­ra­tion it­self. I lost a lot of time but 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 ex­am­i­na­tion hall on the con­di­tion that they come in 30 min­utes early for a se­cu­rity check and frisk­ing by women in­vig­i­la­tors.

Re­gard­ing Singh’s case, Khan said, “We have al­ready writ­ten to the CISF about the in­con­ve­nience faced by mi­nori­ties at metro sta­tions and they have as­sured us that this won’t be re­peated. They have sen­si­tised their staff also.”

“We also wrote to the DSSSB, but have not re­ceived any re­sponse from them,” he added.

Khan stressed on the need to cre­ate more aware­ness about the Ker­ala HC’s di­rec­tive and 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.

Re­gard­ing rights of Sikhs, the DMC said Ar­ti­cle 25 of the In­dian Con­sti­tu­tion al­lows them to carry ‘kir­pans’, hence they must be al­lowed to wear ‘kir­pans’.

We have writ­ten to the CISF about the in­con­ve­nience faced by mi­nori­ties at metro sta­tions and they have as­sured us this won’t be re­peated. They have sen­si­tised their staff also

Za­farul Is­lam Khan, DMC Chair­man

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