On her appeal, West Bengal Minister intervenes

A lecturer of a Muslim university here, who has been crusading against a diktat forcing her to wear a burqa while conducting classes, could now be allowed by the university to continue her classes, thanks to the intervention of a State Minister.

“I have spoken to the Vice-Chancellor of the [Aliah] university. Such an imposition is a violation of the Constitution and it goes against our culture and will under no circumstances be tolerated….The issue will be sorted out shortly,” Minister for Minority Development Abdus Sattar told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Aliah University, an autonomous institution under the State government’s Department of Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education, was set up in 2008. It has been granted the status of a minority educational institution. Though the university does not prescribe a dress code, the West Bengal Madrasa Students’ Union insisted that all women teachers wear burqa in the classroom.

Sirin Middya was appointed a lecturer in March this year. In April, she was told by the Students’ Union that she would be allowed to conduct classes only if she wore a burqa. She insisted that though she was not opposed to wearing a burqa, she would not do so under pressure.

Hoping that the issue would blow over, the university authorities asked her to report to library working on an extended campus of the university.

In protest, Ms. Middya wrote to Mr. Sattar, asking him to intervene.

On Monday, Ms. Middya received an assurance from the university that she would be allowed to conduct classes on the main campus even if she chose not to wear the burqa. “I have received a verbal assurance, but not received any official confirmation,” Ms. Middya said.

Though pleased with the development, she said she had not yet been given a date on which she could resume her classes.