Kolkata Teacher Stops Going to College Over Wearing Hijab, Authorities Say Miscommunication

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KOLKATA — A teacher at a private law college, affiliated to the University of Calcutta, resigned and stopped attending classes after the institute authorities allegedly requested her to refrain from wearing a hijab at the workplace.

However, as the matter became public and sparked an uproar, the college authorities claimed that it resulted from miscommunication, and she would be returning on Tuesday after withdrawing her resignation, reported PTI.

Sanjida Qadar, a teacher at LJD Law College for the past three years, resigned on June 5, alleging that the college authorities had instructed her not to wear a hijab at the workplace after May 31.

“The diktat from the college governing body offended my values and religious sentiments,” she said.

Expressing solidarity with the teacher, West Bengal minister and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Siddiqullah Chowdhury said the college governing body president should apologise to her.

The veteran Muslim leader also wondered whether the college authorities were working at the behest of the RSS and the BJP.

Sanjida had been wearing the headscarf at the workplace since March-April, and the issue seemingly escalated over the past week.

However, after her resignation became public, the college authorities contacted her and insisted that it was merely a miscommunication, clarifying that they had never prohibited her from covering her head with clothes during working hours, sources said.

College governing body chairman Gopal Das told PTI, “There was no directive or prohibition, and the college authorities respect the religious sentiments of everyone. She will resume classes on Tuesday. Now, there is no misunderstanding. We engaged in prolonged discussions with her. The initial developments were the result of some miscommunication.”

The teacher said, “I received an email from the office on Monday. I will analyse my next steps and then decide. But I am not going to the college on Tuesday,” she said.

The email stated that according to the dress code for all faculty members, which is periodically reviewed and assessed, she was free to use a dupatta or scarf to cover her head while taking classes.

The minister alleged that the management of the institute was instilling regressive values among students and trying to incite them against a teacher for wearing a headscarf.

“How can the head of the management of a law college issue such a diktat? Mind it children are expected to learn about the Constitution and laws at such an institute…We heard that he has no objection to Sikh men wearing turban and women’s headscarves. Why then he is targeting Muslims?”, Chowdhury said in a video posted on social media.

He claimed that the “people of Bengal won’t forgive such persons who are out to destroy the secular, pluralistic and tolerant values of the state”.

“On behalf of the government, I will raise the issue with the law minister to see if any action can be taken against the college concerned for forcing a woman to quit the job for wearing a hijab. Are we living in modern times?” he asked.

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