After Naqab, is Meerut University going to prohibit Burqa?

On Saturday, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, a leading educational institution in Uttar Pradesh, prohibited girls from wearing naqab on the varsity campus

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Aas Mohd Kaif

The efforts to polarise political compaign on religious lines for garnering votes seem to have been accelerated by the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh as the 2019 general election draw nearer.

In a shocking decision, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, a leading educational institution of Uttar Pradesh has prohibited girls from wearing naqab inside the campus. The decision was taken in a meeting held on Saturday.

The Muslim community of Meerut is quite unhappy over the varsity’s recent decision on the dress code for women students. Meerut city qazi, professor Zen-us-Sajideen called it an assault on basic religious freedom.

The university administration, however, maintained that the decision was not taken considering the Muslim girls only. The decision was taken after it was reported that many women students enter university without identity cards, covering their faces with naqab.

The Chief Proctor of the University, Alka Chaudhary is believed to be the architect of university’s new diktat on dress code.

According to the city Qazi, if the university feels that women from outside enter without permission then it should deploy an inspection team at the main entrance to ensure that students are not allowed on the varsity premises without verification of their identity cards. Then it won’t matter whether they are wearing salwar kameez or a burqa, he stated. 

A delegation led by City Qazi, meanwhile, met the Commissioner and the District Magistrate on Thursday and apprised them of the matter.

Meerut is a sensitive city and such a decree, several observers feel, can have serious ramifications . Former student of the university, Rahat Ali denounced the decision, alleging that it reeked of a greater political conspiracy.

According to Chief Proctor Alka Choudhary, the decision had to be taken in the backdrop of a recent incident. “A couple was recently found having food under a tree on varsity campus. Asked to show their identity cards, they said they had come to the university just to walk around. After this, the university decided to prohibit wearing naqab inside campus so as to stop outsiders from entering the university,” she maintained.

The question is, do the gatekeepers of the university recognise all the women students by their faces? If yes, then how will they recognise those women students who had been wearing naqab till now!

Another former student of the university, Nahid Fatima, maintained that the university management should depute two women guards instead for checking the identity cards. “This is the right way of addressing the issue. Prohibiting naqab can’t be a good solution to the problem,” she remarked.

Abdul Gaffar Mansoori, a social activist in Meerut underlined the irony of the entire issue: “This university which remains embroiled in the controversies, where incidents of violence, cheating during exams are rampant, a university which is considered the most undisciplined university of the state sees the root cause of all the evils in wearing a naqab! Quite clearly this decision reflects the vicious policy of communal polarisation.”

Aslam Siddiqui, a resident of Zakir Colony, Meerut, whose daughter studies in the university argued, “if some burqa-wearing women start committing crime, will prohibiting burqa be a solution to the problem? If our daughter is asked to take down her naqab against her wishes, then we will not tolerate this. We will not send our daughter to the university.”

According to the city Qazi, the decision violates basic human rights as it curbs freedom. This may discourage women to pursue higher education. “Then the slogan ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ would have no meaning at all,” he said, arguing that Naqab is a matter related to the Muslim Tehzeeb.

“Tomorrow, they may object to wearing Burqa even!”

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