Hoping for inclusivity, Kerala girl approaches court for wearing headscarf in Student Police Cadet

After Nahan, an 8th standard student of GHSS Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode district had sent her photo in SPC uniform with a headscarf and full sleeve in WhatsApp, her teachers asked her to send another one without a headscarf and additional full sleeve. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Following the objection to wearing a headscarf and full sleeve shirt in Student Police Cadet (SPC), from her school, Riza Nahan has appealed against the objection in the Kerala High Court.

After Nahan, an 8th standard student of GHSS Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode district had sent her photo in SPC uniform with a headscarf and full sleeve in WhatsApp, her teachers asked her to send another one without a headscarf and additional full sleeve. Nahan was also asked never to participate in any future program with a headscarf when in SPC uniform.

Stating that SPC is not part of the curriculum and “there is no compulsion to join in SPC”, therefore “if the petitioner is not ready to follow the uniform code, she need not join,” the Kerala High Court Justice P. V KunjiKrishnan observed.

While hearing Riza Nahan’s plea, Kerala High Court also told the petitioner to approach the Home department for further developments.

“Out of 20 students (in her school), only two Muslim girls have joined SPC. Most of the Muslim girls don’t join SPC, solely because the uniform does not allow headscarf,” says Riza Nahan.

According to the petitioner, wearing a headscarf and full sleeve is an essential religious practice and objecting to it is an infringement of Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India, which is the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion.

“I wanted to join SPC after my cousin brother became one and I fell in love with the uniform,” Nahan told Maktoob. Nahan, who is also a Taekwondo student, dreams of becoming a police officer someday.

After Riza Nahan approached the High Court, several Islamophobic videos have come up on Youtube, accusing her of being a tool to the Taliban group in Afghanistan and delegitimizing her hurt when her right to practice religion is denied.

Nahan who has stayed away from SPC programs after the incident has petitioned the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Home Secretary on 30 September and hopes that the Indian Police Service will be more inclusive in the coming days.

This comes in a week, the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board conducted preliminary examination to recruit constables on 26 September, denying admit cards of 30,000 plus applicants. After issuing admit cards on 6 September, several applications were found rejected for uploading photos with headscarves and for other mistakes while filling the form. Out of the rejected 30,000, around 1000 forms were that of Muslim girls, solely dismissed for wearing headscarves in the photos attached with the forms.