SRINAGAR: Students of Delhi Public School (DPS) Srinagar on Friday gathered in the school’s main playground and indoor stadium where they raised pro-Islam slogans and demanded that the school management immediately recall a female teacher who was fired from her job for wearing Abaya inside the school premises.
Hundreds of students, both boys and girls, collectively shouted in support of the dismissed teacher and demanded an apology from the school administration for punishing the teacher for her religious beliefs.
The teacher, according to the students, was told by the administration to change her dress code two weeks ago, an order she had refused. The administration then asked the teacher to choose between her dress and her job.
The students quoted the chairman of DPS Srinagar and of the DP Dhar Memorial Trust, Vijay Dhar, as having said, “You should either choose your dress or your job as I do not like this dress.”
They also quoted the school principal as saying, “This is the rule of DPS. It can’t be changed. We can’t allow this kind of dress here.”
According to students, the female teacher had joined DPS three months ago and was teaching biology to Class 9 and 10. She used to wear the Abaya since she joined the school.
One of the girl students said, “The teacher narrated the whole story before us the other day. She told us that it is going to be my last day as I cannot compromise on my religion. She told us that the school authorities subjected her to the humiliating obligation of not covering her body, which forced her to leave her job.”
The incident is not the first of its kind in DPS. Earlier, the school used to restrict Muslim students from offering prayers inside the campus on Fridays saying that such religious activities will not be allowed inside the school premises.
At that time, the chairman had also said, “I am running a school, not a madrasa. Tomorrow, students from the Hindu community will also come and insist that they should be allowed to perform their pujas every Tuesday.”
DPS also had no half working day on Fridays like in the rest of the schools in the Valley. The school would remain open even during public hartals. After the opposition by students and parents, DPS now closes at noon on Fridays and remains closed during hartals. The female students are allowed to wear the hijaab though nobody wears Abayas.
Some of the teachers termed the incident as unfortunate. A teacher requesting anonymity said, “Why is this rule meant for Abayas only? Why not for sarees and turbans? Wearing a particular kind of dress does not affect one’s teaching at all. It is a famous saying in Islam, ‘I cover my head, not my brain.’ The same applies here. If you are dedicated and hardworking, your dressing sense does not matter.”
After the massive protests on Friday, all the mid-term exams of Class 9 and 10 were postponed till further announcement. The ‘interception of art’ workshop and the parents-teachers meet scheduled on Saturday were also cancelled.
Students have threatened a complete boycott of classes if the school’s rules are not changed and the teacher not recalled.
When Kashmir Reader tried to contact DPS chairman Vijay Dhar, he avoided the matter by saying, “I am in Delhi right now. You can contact the DPS principal.”
Principal Kusam Warikoo did not receive any calls despite repeated attempts. The director of school education Shah Faesal said, “We are gathering facts about the matter.”