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Closed-door ‘diktat’ to ban abaya in Srinagar school snowballed into a controversy

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Controversy has erupted as Vishwa Bharti Girls School where boys virtually outnumber female students allegedly imposed a ban on the use of Abaya (a loose cloak worn by Muslim ladies). The decision sparked a stir with netizens and political leaders lambasting the school authorities which however clarified that no such ban has been imposed and girl students are free to done abaya if they want.

Female students from Vishwa Bharti School located in Rainawari Srinagar staged a protest alleging that the College authorities have double standards. “College staff warns us of consequence in closed-door meetings if we wear the abaya and in open or to media it is claiming that no ban on the use of abaya has been imposed,” they said.

Many argued that this ban infringes upon religious freedom and unfairly targets Muslim students. Chairperson Wakf Board, Darakshan Andrabi virtually supported the alleged ban saying that uniform is a must for students, and if there is no dress code it affects educational institutions.

BJP General Secretary for Jammu and Kashmir, Ashok Koul said that his party was not in favour of imposing dress codes.

“It’s a religious issue. We are neither against it nor in its favour. Every person is free to wear clothes of their choice,” Koul said.

Some staff from the College were seen arguing with protesting students. “Their behavior is rude. They force us to shun the use of Abaya in the college where boys have taken admissions in large numbers. It’s a college for girls by name only,” some students told the news agency Kashmir News Trust.

The PDP President Mehbooba Mufti called it an attack on religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution. “After Karnataka, now they want to experiment with it in Kashmir. Kashmir has become a laboratory for the BJP’s plans of changing Gandhi’s India into Godse’s India. All experiments begin from Valley,” she said adding that the school’s action is unacceptable and it will have serious repercussions.

Students alleged that college authorities are forcing them to take their abayas off in the school premises. They said they can’t remove their abayas at a place where boys are studying in large numbers.

“Clothes don’t define us, our actions do. Let’s focus on creating a positive school culture instead of policing students,” said a couple of parents.

Principal Memroz Shafi said the students had been told that they can wear abaya from home to school, but they should take it off inside the school premises. “We have not imposed any ban on the use of abaya. We only want to ensure that students who wish to wear the abaya should be of the same color and pattern,” she said.

Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam said that: “A rebuttal has been issued by the educational institution that they have not issued any order banning the abaya. The school, which was earlier for girls only, has now become a co-educational school. Hence, the girls have all the right to wear a burqa to maintain their modesty,” Islam said. [KNT]


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