The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Student shown door for burqa

Behrampore, Nov. 18: A first-year student of Behrampore Girls’ College had been asked by her teachers not to come to college if she continued to wear a burqa until the institution’s governing body decided her fate.

Nineteen-year-old Shah Banu, a philosophy honours student, was also allegedly turned out of the class by the head of her department.

Citing the college pros- pectus ' that asks girls to attend classes either in a sari or salwar kameez ' Mamata Samaddar told her to complain to the principal if she wanted to.

Shah Banu said: “I have been going out in a burqa since I was in Class X. I’m so used to it that I can’t go out in a sari or salwar kameez.”

At Hariharpara, 220 km from Calcutta, Shah Banu lives with her husband of 11 months, Yunus Sheikh, a motor spares dealer.

Like her, Sushmita Mondal, a high school teacher in Naoda, also in Murshidabad, was pulled up by the authorities this April for attending school in a burqa.

On her first day in Amtala Annadamani Girls’ High School, Sushmita, who converted to Islam at the time of her marriage, wore a burqa and was told by senior colleagues and the school administration to “follow tradition” by sticking to a sari. But finally the school had to relent.

School education minister Kanti Biswas had clarified earlier that no code could be imposed on teachers dressed decently.

When Shah Banu met principal Srilata Chowdhury, she was told to fetch her father. Abul Hossain, an affluent farmer, was told not to send his daughter to college until the issue was discussed at the governing body meeting.

“The principal told me to submit a written application seeking permission so that my daughter could attend college in a burqa. I did that. but have not received her response to my application yet,” said Hossain.

Today, he wrote to the district magistrate and chairman of the college governing body, N. Manjunatha Prasad, seeking his intervention.

Samaddar, however, denied that she had turned Banu out of the class. “I only told her that I can’t allow her in class in a burqa. She then asked me to give it to her in writing. I became angry and told her I won’t give anything in writing and asked her to go and meet the principal,” she said.

The principal said: “She (Samaddar) lost her head when the girl asked her to give in writing that she cannot attend classes in a burqa. We have our own dress code'.”

Chowdhury added that the college management had decided to allow Shah Banu to wear the burqa as a special case. “We have already informed Shah Banu’s guardians about it.”

Hossain, however, has not heard about it.

The district magistrate said: “I was present at the meeting and we decided that Shah Banu could attend classes in burqa. I will immediately ensure that the girl’s guardians are informed.

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