Burqa row: Aliah teacher still out

Posted on April 20, 2011


Somdatta Basu TNN

Kolkata: Shirin Midhya no longer has faith in the promises and assurances made by ministers or even Aliah University. Despite instructions from minority welfare minister Abdus Sattar and the higher education department, Aliah University has not taken her back yet. Reason — she refused to accept the fatwa to wear a burqa.

“We always covered our heads with scarves whenever we took classes. But, the students’ council members came to the staff room and requested us to wear burqas. When confronted, we were told that in Aliah University, the Muslim dress code is strictly enforced,” she says.

After initial hesitation, when the teachers spoke to the university authorities, they were told that since it is a university, it follows UGC guidelines that do not mention any dress code. “The students council members soon started a demonstration against the teachers who refused to wear burqa. Finally, most of my colleagues relented, while I refused. A student’s union member even rang me and threatened that I will not be able to take classes if I refused to follow their diktat. The female students also started wearing a burqa,” she adds.

The university authorities then told Shirin to join the second campus at Salt Lake as a librarian. “When the newspapers took up my case, I was promised to be reinstated. I was told that minister of minority affairs Abdus Sattar had asked the authorities to take me back,’’ she states.

When she returned to the main campus, it was two days before the varsity was closing for Eid. “When I returned after it reopened after a month, I was told that my term as a guest lecturer had ended and I would have to renew my contract. I cited the cases of all female teachers who were on contract but were not told to do so. The office bearers told me that the rule was applicable from my batch. On that pretext, two colleagues of mine along with me were asked to apply for a term renewal. In November 2010, the other two colleagues were informed that their job would not be renewed,” she says.

After a few days, Shirin saw newspaper advertisements for the post she had been forced to leave. “I emailed the authorities requesting them to inform me if my renewal had taken place or not. Else, I was planning to reapply for the post. I got no reply,” she rues.

Registrar Anwar Hussain says, “I will not be able to comment before checking papers.”

Abdus Sattar adds, “I am on the campaign trail. I will need to check the matter with the university authorities.”

The Times of India