DPS Teacher Insists On Going To Class In Abaya, Shown Door

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SRINAGAR: Large number of students of elite Delhi Public School (DPS) Srinagar Friday boycotted their classes and staged a daylong protest against the school authorities after a female teacher was allegedly sacked from the service when she remained adamant on entering classrooms in Abaya.

The controversy, as per the students, erupted on Thursday, when the school authorities asked the female teacher, who had been coming to school in Abaya, the loose Arab style outer-garment for last few months, to select either of the two: her dress code or job at DPS.

The teacher, who was teaching biology, is understood to have subsequently entered her classroom to bid goodbye to her students. “Dear students I have been asked to either shed Abaya before entering classroom or leave the job, so I prefer to call it a day,” the protesting students quoted their teacher as having, said.

This morning, as the school at Athwajan on the city outskirts reopened, the students from standard 7th to 12th boycotted their classes and sat on a daylong dharna in the sports-field and the main recreation hall.

Some of the protesting students accused the school authorities of resorting to what they termed as undue interference in their religious beliefs.

The students posed some tough questions to school Principal Kusum Warikoo, whom they accused of having sacked the teacher. “Will you next stop me from wearing turban,” asked a Sikh student while a Hindu girl asked if those wearing Saree would be equally refrained from attending classroom?

The students interviewed said decision of the school authorities have hurt their religious sentiments. 

Even though the school teachers, Kashmir Observer talked to confirmed the incident, they said it was being blown out of proportions.

A teacher who spoke in support of the school authorities said her colleague was not fired from the job but simply asked to select of the two choices given to her.

“The teacher was not fired on grounds of wearing Abaya. She was only asked not to wear Abaya in the classroom… There needs to be uniformity in dressing. We need to understand the nuances of the issue before blaming someone,” the teacher said “even Western style dresses, like T shirt and jeans are not allowed inside classrooms.”

“She(teacher) left the job only because she was unwilling to attend classroom without Abaya, so it was her free will and not the decision of the school authorities,” some staff members added.

The protesting students said they demanded apology from the principal and re-induction of the “sacked teacher.” “But the Principal Madam told us that she did nothing on her own.”

This is the second such incident at the school, often a first choice among the upscale families to enrol their wards. Earlier, students had held strong protests after they were allegedly barred from offering congregational prayers inside the school premises. To avoid a controversy, school later decided to make Fridays a half day session to allow students to offer prayers at their own convenience.

Meanwhile given the sensitivity of the matter and students declining to cow-down till the administration apologizes, the insiders said, the school has cancelled the teacher-parent meet which was scheduled for Saturday.

School principal Kusum Warikoo, did not respond to repeated phone calls from Kashmir Observer.

However the Pro-Vice Chairman of DPS Srinagar, Vijay Dhar feigned ignorance about the entire episode.

“I am in Delhi and I don’t have any information,” he told Kashmir Observer.

Though the news has been trending on social media, the DPS Srinagar authorities are yet to come out with any official statement, which would give their side of the story on what happened and why.  

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