The Director of Collegiate Education, K.V. Kodandaramaiah, told The Hindu on Thursday that he had directed Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada V. Ponnuraj to convene a meeting of heads of degree colleges in the district in the presence of the Vice-Chancellor of the Mangalore University to arrive at a consensus on the issue of students wearing burkha on campus.
Mr. Kodandaramaiah, who is scheduled to visit Sri Venkataramana Swamy (SVS) College in Bantwal in the wake of the institution banning burkha, said that the Deputy Commissioner and the Vice-Chancellor had been asked to submit a list of recommendations to the State Government after the meeting.
Once the recommendations were presented to the Government, the matter might be tabled before the Cabinet for further deliberations, he said.
He said that the vision of the Higher Education Department was to “produce good citizens” who could easily “fit into society and job markets”. “We are in the business of providing general education where we strive to improve the personality of a student.”
He said that the issue of banning burkha on campus must be seen in this “macro framework” keeping in mind the vision of higher education in the State. “We cannot look at the ban in isolation,” he said and added “our vision should be in conformity to the larger provisions of the Constitution.”
‘We are secular’
Meanwhile, the management of the SVS College, in a press release on Wednesday stressed that the 41-year-old institution “has been, is and will be secular.”
Under the media spotlight ever since it barred the entry of a 1st B.Com student Aysha Ashmin for wearing a headscarf on the campus, the release sought to clarify that the student had not been suspended.
“She is welcome to attend the classes, if she is willing to obey the rules and regulations of the college,” the release said.
Correspondent of the college Ganesh Prabhu said the management was under extreme pressure from “outside organisations and political parties” to impose the ban on burkah.
Mr. Prabhu said: “I do not wish to name any particular organisation, but we have been threatened, and the ban on the burkha is integral to maintaining peace on the campus.” He said that some students backed by “certain organisations” had threatened to come to the college dressed in saffron shawls if the wearing of the garment was not banned.
He lauded Ms. Ashmin’s “rebellious spirit” that she was “unfortunately using for the wrong cause”. He said that wearing the “burkha” was “not part of Indian culture.”
Mr. Ponnuraj told presspersons on Thursday that the college should confide in the administration if it was under duress from any organisation. “If they have received any threat, they have not conveyed it to us. We cannot rely on their statements in the media,” he said.
He said that the ban on burkha was “not merely a law and order problem.”
“The attitude of the college reflects a deeper social issue,” he said.
“Only the Government can act now,” he said and added, the college should make their terms and conditions clear to students at the time of admission.