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Burqa row: Chembur college slapped legal notice by NGO

Updated on: 04 August,2023 07:17 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

Activists and lawyers say knee-jerk uniform imposition will undo hard-won gains of reformists like Fatima Sheikh and Savitribai Phule; principal says no objections to new policy when it was declared

Burqa row: Chembur college slapped legal notice by NGO

Police officers stationed at the N G Acharya and D K Marathe College of Arts, Science and Commerce at Chembur in the wake of the controversy. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

In the wake of tensions at a Chembur college over the denial of entry to burqa-clad students, an educational NGO and lawyer sent a legal notice to the principal seeking an explanation. The organisation, Exa Education Foundation, has alleged such episodes will only prevent Muslim girls from pursuing higher education.

On Wednesday, several Std XII students of N G Acharya and D K Marathe College of Arts, Science and Commerce at Chembur were stopped from entering the college premises by security guards. They were told that they were not allowed to wear burqas over their uniforms in breach of the college’s new uniform policy. After the incident, students held a protest outside the college and they were allowed in. However, this led to anger and disappointment among the members of the Muslim community and social activists.

In the legal notice sent to Dr Vidyagauri Lele, the college’s principal, the NGO sought an explanation. “We want the college principal and management to clarify why the girls were restricted entry. The security guard will not stop the girls on his own. They acted according to the instructions given to them. Restraining Muslim girl students from wearing burqas is restraining them from their right to wear what they want to. Also, the girls have said they have no problem wearing the uniform; they just needed permission to change in the girls’ common room,” said advocate Saif Alam.

Muskaan Sheikh, special educator and founder of Exa Education Foundation, said, “Please do not undo the reforms brought in by social reformers Fatima Sheikh and Savitribai Phule on the pretext of a uniform dress code. Education is the purest thing that elevates women in society, and obstructing a woman merely on the basis of what she wears takes away her right to grow in society “

Deepa Zaman Agrawal, a member of the NGO Pragati Mahila Pratishthan and the Human Rights Commission, said, “These are all political issues and cannot be brought inside the campus of an educational institute. Why should students suffer due to such matters? When we went to meet the principal of the college, they did not allow us. We have spoken to the girls. We have given the college an ultimatum of 10 days to resolve the matter.”

Agrawal’s NGO staged a protest at the college on Thursday. Parents and students too were present. In a meeting on May 1, the college administration had informed students that uniforms would be compulsory for junior college. “Students were already informed that starting August 1 they would be allowed on campus wearing college uniform, and no accessories including badge, tie, sticker, dupatta or burqa will be allowed. The students were regularly reminded about our new uniform policy, and we also informed and warned them that beginning August 1, they would not be allowed on campus without proper uniforms. Nobody had raised any issues or objections then,” said Dr Lele.

Aug 1
Day uniform policy kicked in

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