‘A teacher of Aliah University was allegedly barred from class and then transferred because she refused to bow to the “diktat” of the students’ union to wear a burqa.
Aliah University, an autonomous institution under the West Bengal State government’s Department of Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education, was set up in 2008. It has been granted the status of a minority educational institution. Though the university does not prescribe a dress code, the West Bengal Madrasa Students’ Union insisted that all women teachers wear burqa in the classroom.
Sirin Middya was appointed a lecturer in March this year. In April, she was told by the Students’ Union that she would be allowed to conduct classes only if she wore a burqa.
“The students have no business imposing such a diktat on teachers when the university guidelines clearly state that there is no dress code. I will wear a burqa only when I feel like,” she told The Telegraph. “I was first barred from the classroom and then transferred to the university’s Salt Lake campus,” she said. There, for the past three months, she has been limited to library work though she was appointed as a Bengali teacher.
The students’ union of the university alleged that the teacher was “indecently dressed” and she would not be allowed to teach if she did not get into a burqa.“We admit there is no dress code for teachers in the university, but considering the character of the institution we insist that lady teachers wear only traditional dresses,” said Siamat Ali, the state general secretary of the West Bengal Madrasa Students’ Union. The teacher wrote to vice-chancellor Syed Samsul Alam, Anwar Hussain Dafadar, the university registrar, and Abdus Sattar, the minister of state for minority affairs.
Sirin Middya could now be allowed by the university to continue her classes, thanks to the intervention of the State Minister. “I have spoken to the Vice-Chancellor of the [Aliah] university. Such an imposition is a violation of the Constitution and it goes against our culture and will under no circumstances be tolerated….The issue will be sorted out shortly,” Minister for Minority Development Abdus Sattar told The Hindu..
On Monday, Ms. Middya received an assurance from the university that she would be allowed to conduct classes on the main campus even if she chose not to wear the burqa.
“I have received a verbal assurance, but not received any official confirmation,” Ms. Middya said.
Though pleased with the development, she said she had not yet been given a date on which she could resume her classes.
Imposing the burqa by Right-wing Islamist student Unions and banning burqa by Right-wing French politicians are two sides of the same coin of Communalism/Fundamentalism .Both should be fiercely condemned..