Eight school teachers were heckled and threatened with public humiliation on Friday for protesting the ban on wearing salwar-kameez to Bakhrahat Girls High School.
In a complaint lodged with Bishnupur police station, on the southern fringes of the city, Sarmistha Banerjee, Mousumi Biswas, Payel Dey, Supriya Chakraborty, Mahua Basu, Mala Bhattacharjee, Debasmita Guha and Manisha Jana said they were feeling scared to return to school.
They also stated that “someone had instigated” the mob of locals against the teachers demanding the right to wear salwar-kameez to school, instead of a sari, police said.
The government-aided Bakhrahat Girls High School’s managing committee had, about a year back, passed a resolution making it mandatory for all teachers to wear saris. This, despite the state government as well as Calcutta High Court allowing female teachers the freedom to wear either to school. The sari stricture was not put down on paper; it was conveyed verbally to the teachers.
Eight of the 30 teachers in the school, with 1,500 students, have stood firm in their opposition to the dress diktat.
Following the latest fracas, the school management seems to be softening its stance. “We are not standing firm on this issue, and a decision will only be taken after meetings are held between the school authorities, staff and guardians of the pupils,” said Anup Ghosh, the secretary of the school’s managing committee.
An emergency meeting has been called at Bakhrahat Girls High School on Saturday for all teaching and non-teaching staff members and the managing committee. Another meeting involving the guardians will be held on August 1, after which the managing committee will take a decision on the dress code controversy.
Sulapani Bhattacharya, the president of West Bengal Board of Primary Education, told Metro: “There is no dress code for teachers working in state-aided schools. The government has not imposed any restriction on wearing salwar-kameez to school. As far as the government order goes, teachers are expected to come to school dressed in a decent manner.”
Trouble started early this year when one of the eight teachers underwent an operation on January 23 and rejoined school five days later clad in a salwar-kameez. Her stitches had not been cut yet and she felt more comfortable in a salwar-kameez than a sari.
She was hauled up by the school authorities and made to submit a written apology, only after which she was allowed to attend classes.
The eight teachers have been targeted in school and now even in the locality.