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Kolkata Professor Resigns Over ‘Harassment for Wearing Hijab’

Sanjida Quader, an assistant professor at LJD Law College in Kolkata, has resigned after allegedly facing repeated mental harassment for wearing a hijab. Despite continuous pressure from college authorities to remove her hijab, Quader refused and ultimately decided to leave her job.

Sanjida Quader is a resident of Murarai block in West Bengal’s Birbhum district. She had been teaching at LJD Law College, a private educational institution under the University of Calcutta, for more than two years. She started wearing the hijab during the month of Ramadan following religious rituals.

On May 30, Ashok Das, the office staff of the college, suddenly told her that she would not be allowed to enter the college wearing a hijab. When asked why it was forbidden to wear the hijab, he said, “This is violating the dress code of our college.”

She resigned last Wednesday, June 5, under pressure from the college authorities.

In her resignation letter, Quader wrote, “I am compelled to resign due to the anti-hijab policy of the college authorities. Being asked to remove my hijab is in conflict with my religious beliefs and values.”

Sanjida Quader told The Observer Post, “I have been going to college wearing a hijab for quite some time. No one ever interrupted me. And this is the first time I have heard of a dress code for professors. There is no mention on the college website or in the guidebook that hijab cannot be worn. I asked the authorities if a Sikh wearing a turban would not be allowed to attend classes. They said the Sikh case is different and that I can’t wear a hijab here because this is not a religious institution. They want to create a ‘neutral space’ with no religious activities. If this college is a ‘neutral space,’ then how can Saraswati Puja and Holi festival be celebrated here? When asked, the authorities could not answer.”

The dress code was created by the college, and the authorities have said that they have to come to the college according to the dress code.

The Chairman of LJD Law College, Gopal Das, said, “Nothing religious is allowed in our dress code.” When asked what would happen if a Sikh wore a turban, Gopal stated, “There is no problem with the turban.” So why the discrimination against the hijab? The chairman of the college could not answer.

Referring to the whole incident, Sanjida Quader has expressed concern on social media.

She said, “I don’t wear a burqa. I wrap a cloth covering my head over a saree and churidar. The country’s constitution gives everyone the right to practice their own religious beliefs. At present, Muslim students in colleges are facing problems due to wearing hijab. I was forced to resign overnight because I was not allowed to wear the hijab. What happened to me is an expression of Islamophobia.”

A few days ago, Soheli Akhter, a sixth-semester student from Beldanga in Murshidabad district, was also harassed for entering the college wearing a hijab.

It is alleged that 4-5 male staff of LJD Law College took the girl to a room and pressured her to remove her hijab. She was told that if she wore a hijab, she would violate the dress code of the college and that her hijab would affect other students.

Two college staffers, Abhijit and David, allegedly mentally harassed the girl for an hour and a half. The parents of the student have said that they will take legal action against the law college.

Soheli Akhter told The Observer Post, “I was mentally broken. I was terrified. Then I called home and told them about the incident. My parents came and took me home.”

“The authorities lied to me, saying my classmates had complained to the college authorities about me wearing a hijab. Later, I found out that no one had made such a complaint,” she said.

The college authorities said, “Two of our new staff members have done this. We will take action against them.”

There has been a storm of controversy in Bengal over the hijab issue. Meanwhile, Professor Sanjida Quader has written a complaint to the West Bengal Minority Commission about the whole incident.

Ahamed Hasan Imran, chairman of the Minority Commission, stated, “The reason for the objection to hijab in colleges affiliated with Calcutta University does not make sense. We will definitely ask the college authorities about this.”

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