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TISS woman denied job in Delhi orphanage. Reason: She is a Muslim with hijab

In the following mail that came on Tuesday, Varma, in an angry tone, wrote he was “shocked” to know that "conservative Islam was Zoya’s priority not humanity" and that "her higher education has gone down the drain".

Written by Saba Rahman | Updated: November 16, 2017 10:11 am
Muslim woman from TISS denied work in orphanage because of hijab Zoya, who has faced similar exclusion owing to her hijab earlier, wrote back saying she is a Muslim woman who covers her head and that it was a “priority” for her. Express Photo

Islamophobia persists globally and in our country as well. And its latest victim is a 27-year-old woman from Patna who is in the national capital on a job hunt. One of the reasons why Nedal Zoya, a Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, did not make the cut for the post of a social worker at  one of the orphanages in Delhi is because she wears the hijab – a headscarf to be precise. Something, her recruiters said,  “will make her look like a Muslim from even a distance of a kilometre”.

After the Orphanage for Girls in Kotla Mubarakpur floated the vacancy on a website in October, Zoya mailed across her job application. She was then asked to write an online test the same day and also send her photographs.

Later, a mail, while commenting on her test, stated that their institution is “religion-free” for both staff and students. The mail, signed by Harish Varma, President and CEO, Delhi Orphanage, went on to say that “I am sorry to inform that from even a distance of one kilometer you look like a Muslim lady due to your external Muslim gears”.

Zoya, who has faced similar exclusion owing to her hijab earlier, wrote back saying she is a Muslim woman who covers her head and that it was a “priority” for her.

On Varma’s claim that he wanted his institution to be religion-free, she had a poser: “Would you be performing pooja during festivals? Or would you allow girls in the orphan to offer namaz or do pooja”.

In the following mail that came on Tuesday, Varma, in an angry tone, wrote he was “shocked” to know that “conservative Islam was Zoya’s priority, not humanity” and that “her higher education has gone down the drain”.

He reiterated that he wanted to keep his orphanage “religion-free”, “even free from Hinduism”, and “will not allow any kind of religious activities inside his orphanage”. He underlined he believed religion to be a private activity.

He further wrote that they have hired another Muslim girl — “who has modern thoughts with religion-free mindset despite the fact that she is born, raised and is living in Batla House, New Delhi”.

Indianexpress.com reached out to Varma and he stood by the contents of his mail. He refused to accept that rejection of Nedal’s application, one of the basis of which was her head scarf, was an act of Islamophobia.

Zoya said earlier a reputed private school in Patna had told her outrightly that they cannot hire her because of her hijab.


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  1. H
    Harish Varma
    Nov 25, 2017 at 11:15 am
    Fundamentalist Muslims are greatest problem and burden on the earth since their existence! There are around 2.5 billion Muslims on the whole world but they can not DEFEAT just 8 million Israelis! They LOOTED India for around 200 years, they ruled India on the edge of SWORD for around 450 years and now they are doing EVERY possible BAD things to DEFEAT India and Hindus since last 70 years! Fundamentalist Indian Muslims not EAT FOOD after even defeat of Pakistan Cricket team with Indian Cricket team! Off course EVERY MUSLIM is not terrorist but EVERY TERRORIST is a Muslim! Barack Hussein Obama REMOVED his middle name and CONVERTED to Christianity to became President of United States of America! He very well KNEW that no AMERICAN LIKE Muslims! 12th passed Donald Trump DEFEATED highly educated and experienced Hillary Clinton just promised that he will be KICKED illegal Muslims from America and STOP them coming to inside America! Jai Hind.
    1. M
      Nov 19, 2017 at 10:43 pm
      such usless people who have a false sense of nationalism and do not understand what secular means are the biggest threat to the progress of India as a nation...if he only took sometime to understand islam and how modern it is he would not show his glaring lack of knowledge. I can only feel sorry for him and his organisation which is headed by such an ignorant person.
      1. M
        Mohd. Islam
        Nov 20, 2017 at 2:03 pm
        n this particular case Ms. Nedal Zoya is playing victim! So many Muslims do this kind of thing to gain popularity and put pressure on people, who refused them some thing! May be she is not enough eligibility for the Social Worker post in that orphanage! It is extremely clear in the emails of Mr. Harish Varma, CEO of the orphanage that he wants to keep his orphanage religion free. So why she is seeking an exemption for herself? He also hired a Muslims girl for that post. So where he is Muslim hater? Why Muslims are interested in special treatment for them? Only political parties viz. Samajwadi Party, Indian National Congress, Bhaujan Samaj Party, Trinmool Congress etc. are ready to BOW DOWN infront of Muslims for their VOTES! India is the most secular country in the world that is the reason we have Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan... even Irfaan Khan! If India is communal then how 70 population watching Muslim film actors!
      2. D
        Nov 19, 2017 at 5:44 pm
        Shameful bigot of a man. Would he not hire a turban-wearing Sikh just because he looks like a Sikh from a kilometer away?
        1. M
          Mohd. Islam
          Nov 17, 2017 at 5:46 pm
          Ms. Saba Rahman (the Journalist for Muslims) can not appropriately judge or understand proprieties of Mr. Harish Varma because she wearing green spectacle! Mr. Varma is a noble person with noble thoughts. He is starting an orphanage without any religious preferences! Above all, till date we have not a single orphanage without religious obligations!
          1. B
            Nov 17, 2017 at 5:18 pm
            this shows the mind set of this govt also that they are suffering from. god saves this country
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