NAGAON (Assam): An MLA of the opposition AIUDF has charged the authorities of a premier college in Assam’s Nagaon district with “saffronising” the college environment by asking the students to wear “proper uniform”.
There cannot be any harm if some girl students go to college in ‘hijab’ (veil worn by Muslim women) and ‘niqab’ (clothing that covers the face), All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Aminul Islam said in a Facebook post.
Principal of Anandaram Dhekial Phookan (ADP) College Dr Surajit Kumar Bhagowati on Friday said he did not ban any religious outfit and only issued a notice before the Autumn vacation asking students to wear “proper uniform”.
Of the 20 per cent Muslim students of the college, only the MLA’s daughter comes in burqa, Bhagowati said, adding that he was feeling threatened and has lodged a police complaint over the Facebook post of the AIUDF leader.
In his October 24 post, Islam said, “No such decision (banning religious outfits) was taken in the last 60 years of the college’s existence. I would like to know where in the Indian Constitution or the state gazetted notification it is written that one cannot wear such outfits.”
“The college has been imparting education to students irrespective of caste, creed, race and religion for the last 60 years but you (Bhagowati) have tried to saffronise the education system in the college,” the MLA, a former student of the ADP College, said in the post written in Assamese.
He asked, “Is the college your paternal property? What was so bothersome about a few students attending the college wearing ‘hijab’ or ‘niqab’? Does wearing decent clothes affect the college environment?”
Islam said he has urged various student organisations to look into the matter, otherwise the principal would “ruin” the status, dignity and heritage and educational environment of the college.
Talking to the media, Bhagowati said, “All the students come to college in proper uniform as mentioned in the college prospectus. But only one student who is MLA Islam’s daughter wears burqa in college.”
On whether he has banned ‘hijab’ and ‘niqab’ in the college, the principal said he neither ordered any such ban nor did he ask the concerned student not to wear burqa in the campus.
He said he only issued a common notice to the students asking them to wear proper college uniform.
“I have filed a police complaint as I am feeling threatened,” the principal said.
The college’s Students Union and the Teachers’ Council have criticised the MLA for the social media post.
The Muslim students have also come out in support of the move of the principal.
They said before journalists that if students of different religious communities insist on coming in their respective outfits to the institute, the secular environment of the college will be vitiated.
The ADP College was set up in 1959 and named after Anandaram Dhekial Phookan, a pioneer of Assamese literature.