The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salwar backlash on teacher

Malda, Oct. 17: Just over a month after the government issued a circular to all state-aided schools that lady staff members could come to class in salwar-kameez, a young teacher was allegedly hounded out of a school for wearing just that.

Aparna Sarkar, the zoology teacher of Hiralal Balika Vidyalaya in Bamungola, 60 km from Malda town, today alleged in a police complaint that two of her senior woman colleagues had beaten her with umbrellas in the school yesterday because she was wearing a salwar-kameez.

Sarkar said the school authorities had debarred her from signing the register since June last year, when they decided she would not be allowed to do so unless she wore a sari to the institution. She also claimed that she was not paid salary between June 26 and August 31, 2003, for violating the 'dress code'.

The teacher said she was determined to sign the register yesterday, but was roughed up. 'Those on duty at Bamungola police station refused to take my complaint. They asked me to come back on Monday. I left my complaint with them,' Sarkar said today from her home in Malda town.

The 26-year-old teacher said she had 'been singled out for harassment by the teachers since the time I joined (in 2002)'.

In June 2003, the school management committee had decided 'unanimously' that Sarkar would not be allowed to sign the attendance register if she did not wear saris.

The resolution was signed by 10 members, including headmistress Nibedita Bhowmik Roy and committee secretary Kasimuddin Sarkar.

Kasimuddin Sarkar today said: 'We have passed the resolution, but it is yet to be conveyed to the teacher concerned. The lady in question here is not at all punctual. The dress code is not the issue here.' He said he was 'not aware of any incident'.

The headmistress admitted that Aparna Sarkar had been warned not to wear salwar-kameez but denied that her salary was held up because of it. 'The school has its norms and if everyone can wear a sari, so can she,' Bhowmik Roy said.

All-Bengal Teachers Association district secretary Kajal Sarkar said he would get in touch with the school. 'The school cannot dictate how a teacher will dress as long as he or she shows up decently.'

District inspector of schools Dipak Dutta termed the incident 'unfortunate'. 'School education minister Kanti Biswas has already cleared the wearing of salwar-kameez by teachers. The circular was sent to all state-aided schools.'

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