The Congress on Saturday strongly condemned the Lakshadweep administration's move to introduce a new pattern of uniform in schools in the union territory and warned them of intense protests, including mass class boycott by students against it.
Lakshadweep Congress leader and ex-MP Hamdullah Sayeed alleged that the new dress code directive, which is silent on hijabs or scarves for girl students, amounted to destroying the intrinsic culture and lifestyle of islanders in the Muslim-dominated archipelago.
The BJP-led government at the Centre and the Lakshadweep administration were continuously attempting to implement anti-people policies that were totally against the culture and ethos of the islands, he charged.
The latest on the list was the recent order issued by the Education Department introducing a new uniform code, which cannot be accepted in any way, Sayeed said.
"We will not allow any such directive that will destroy the culture and existing lifestyle of Lakshadweep. Such impositions are part of attempts to create unwanted tensions and issues in a democratic system," the ex-MP told PTI.
Making it clear that the Congress party would launch a series of democratic agitations against the move, he said school students would boycott their classes to register their protest against it.
The leader also said the Congress would also intensify its protests against the Lakshadweep administration's move to permit liquor outlets in the archipelago.
The party recently organised a mass protest march on various islands against the controversial move. A draft on the proposed Excise Regulation Bill was published by the Lakshadweep administration on August 3 seeking suggestions from the public.
The Bill, which will permit the sale and consumption of liquor in the archipelago, has drawn widespread criticism from various corners.
Meanwhile, Lakshadweep MP and NCP leader Mohammed Faizal also indicated an intensifying protest against the draft liquor policy and the new uniform pattern.
In a Facebook post, Faizal urged the people of the islands, especially the parents' community, to resist any move by the administration to impose a hijab ban in schools.
Terming the imposition of the new liquor policy and the uniform code as a violation of fundamental rights, he charged that the administration has pushed the islanders into an unprecedented crisis that they have never experienced before.
Each law is imposed in such a way that it roots out the customs, religious beliefs, eating habits, and dressing patterns that have been followed by the islanders for ages, he further said.
Noting that it is important to protect the heritage and tradition of the archipelago, Faizal urged everyone to stand united in the fight to protect it.
A row has erupted after the Lakshadweep administration introduced a new pattern of stitched school uniforms, including belts, ties, shoes, socks, etc., for children studying in its schools, but its directive is silent on hijabs or scarves for girl students in the Muslim-majority Union Territory.
In a circular dated August 10 issued to the principals and headmasters of the schools under the Lakshadweep administration, the Education department said school children wearing uniforms will ensure uniformity and also inculcate the spirit of discipline among students.
"Wearing items other than prescribed uniform patterns will affect the concept of uniformity among school children. To maintain discipline and uniform dress code in schools are the responsibility of principals and heads of schools," the circular said.
It claimed that the decision to introduce a new pattern got appreciation from all stakeholders, including students, parents, people's representatives, etc and the Education Department decided to go for the same pattern for the current academic year also.
In the circular, the Education Department directed all the principals and HMs that every student attend the school in the prescribed uniform only, which will not only ensure uniformity, unity and a spirit of brotherhood but also instill discipline among students.
It also gave instruction to the school authorities to strictly adhere to the uniform pattern approved by the Lakshadweep administration on all working days in the schools under their jurisdiction.
"Non-compliance of these instructions will be viewed seriously," it added.
As per the new directive, boys up to the fifth standard should wear a half-pant (check design) and a sky blue half-sleeve shirt. Girls in the same group have been prescribed a skirt (check design fabric) and a sky blue half-sleeve shirt.
Similarly, boys studying in class 6 to 12 have been directed to wear navy blue colour full pants and sky blue half sleeve shirts. Girls in the same classes should wear navy blue divider skirts and sky blue half sleeve shirts.
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