A lady teacher in West Bengal’s first Muslim university, the Aliah University, was not allowed to teach after she refused to wear the burqa (veil) inside the varsity premises.
Sirin Middya, a guest lecturer of the university, along with eight other lady teachers got a ‘diktat’ from the leaders of the students’ union to wear burqa and attend the college.
‘I was asked by the leaders of the student’s union to wear burqa and attend the college and if I don’t abide by the diktat, they won’t allow me to attend the college. Then after a few days as we were entering the university campus, they started shouting slogans ‘those who are against purdah system should go to hell’,’ Middya told.
Middya was appointed in March this year and got the union’s ‘diktat’ in the second week of April. From April-end, she has been unable to go to the Aliah University’s Calcutta Madrasah Campus.
A notice issued by the university clearly stated that ‘university has no dress code, any pressure from any corner will not be allowed regarding the use of burqa inside the university campus. If anybody creates pressure on female teachers to use the burqa, necessary steps will be taken by the university authorities’, she said.
‘The University Grants Commission and the university itself do not prescribe any such dress code. Who are they to dictate us what we should wear and what we should not. The most unfortunate part is that the students and leaders of students union are forcing us to wear burqa. A few of the teachers gave into their demand but I didn’t,’ Middya said.
According to her, she has no issues with wearing a burqa – but if she dons one, it would be of her own free will.
‘Most of the teachers do not like the diktat of the students to wear burqa. But they have no option but to accept it. This is Talibanisation of educational premises and there is no one to our rescue,’ she said.
Middya joined Aliah University after an M.A. in Bengali from Jadavpur University. After refusing to give in to the unethical demands of the students union, she has been unable to go to Aliah’s University’s Calcutta campus, and she reports to the university’s Salt Lake campus where she works as an assistant librarian.
In the month of June, Middya wrote to West Bengal Minister of State for Minority Development Abdus Sattar.
‘Nobody has the right to dictate to others what he/she should wear or should not wear. This completely depends upon the personal wish of the person. If some one is doing such kind of things then it is against human rights. We are looking into the matter and necessary action will be taken very soon,’ Sattar told.
‘Actually the Trinamool Congress is behind those people who have issued such kind of diktat inside the university. They are trying to create problems inside the campus,’ said Sattar.
The Aliah University was set up by upgrading Calcutta Madrasah, which was established in 1781. The university was upgraded in 2008. Islamic courses are taught in the Calcutta Madrasah building and the other academic activities are conducted on different campuses at the Salt Lake.