Victim of indecent diktat of Islamic Fanatics and total silence of secularists

published on July 30, 2010

Editorial -The Pioneer
July 30, 2010.

In a shocking display of Taliban-like fanaticism, a lecturer has been barred from entering the campus of Aliah University in Kolkata, West Bengal’s first ‘Muslim university’ set up by upgrading the Calcutta Madarsa and funded by taxpayers, simply because she refuses to wear the burqa as demanded by the students union. Ms Shirin Middya, who has stood up to the absurd and untenable demand that she comply with a ‘decent’ dress code, that is, don a burqa, has flouted no law of the land or rule of the UGC. Yet, she has so far found no support from either the university officials, including the Vice-Chancellor, or the CPI(M)-led Left Front Government. Authorities have inexplicably refrained from intervening although Ms Middya has been forced to stay out of the campus for three months now. Rather than succumb to the terror tactics of the Islamist goons masquerading as ‘student leaders’, who obviously enjoy the patronage of cynical politicians and their morally bankrupt parties, Ms Middya has chosen to sit it out. This is in sharp contrast to the other female lecturers who have meekly agreed to wear the burqa. What makes the hounding of Ms Middya particularly obnoxious is that Aliah University is not an Islamic charity funded institution but governed by the rules of the UGC; its expenses are borne by the public exchequer. Hence, to insist that female teachers must wear the burqa simply because the institution is labelled as a ‘Muslim university’ amounts to a crime that merits tough punishment. Tragically, the university has shown no courage in taking on the thugs who have sought refuge behind Islam to enforce their unacceptable ‘dress code’. The Vice-Chancellor, more than anybody else, has a lot to answer for.

As for the stunning silence and inaction of the Left Front Government, which does not tire of parading its ‘secular’ credentials, it can only be explained as craven indulgence of fanatics in the hope of Muslim votes. It is the Left’s sly collusion with Islamists that has fetched grief to Kerala; the situation in West Bengal could not have been any better. Having realised the folly of appeasing mullahs, the LDF in Kerala is at least trying to distance itself from Islamists and has taken a tough stand against those trying to ape the Taliban. In West Bengal, on the other hand, the decrepit Left Front regime has chosen silence over reprimand. It could be argued that the CPI(M) is loath to take on the Islamists in fear of losing votes to the Trinamool Congress which has been brazenly pandering to the most regressive sections of the Muslim leadership. But that only underscores the pathetic plight of a duplicitous Left: It preaches uncompromising secularism from its perch in New Delhi and scornfully describes others as tainted by communal politics; but in its stronghold it practices the worst kind of minority appeasement to the exclusion of women’s rights and dignity, as demonstrated by the harassment and humiliation of Ms Middya.

With what had been kept under wraps till now becoming public knowledge and the entire nation repelled by the grotesque assault on personal liberty by those claiming to speak for Islam, the least that the Left Front Government can do is to instruct the Vice-Chancellor to rid the campus of malcontents and abolish the ‘dress code’ that has been imposed by those who have scant regard and even less respect for the law of the land. If the Vice-Chancellor fails to do so, he should be sacked and the so-called university should be shut sine die. India does not need such dens of regressive fanaticism.

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