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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Indian Muslim women stage protest on veil statement

First Published : 29 Aug 2009 08:27:54 AM IST
Last Updated : 29 Aug 2009 10:06:29 AM IST

HYDERABAD: Tension prevailed at Vani Degree College for women at Mehdipatnam after the its principal is said have asked a burqa-clad student to unveil herself for identification before entering the college premises.

At this, hundreds of agitated undergraduates, joined by Intermediate students of the sister junior college, raised slogans against the principal, Y Annapurna. They also pelted the college building with stones, prompting a lathi-charge by the police.

The trouble apparently began on account of the “unveiling” episode, but in fact it had been brewing over the last few days, with the rift between the students and the principal widening.

On Thursday evening, the students staged a dharna in front of the college demanding an apology from Annapurna. The issue seemed to have been sorted out following the intervention of Karwan MIM MLA Afsar Khan. But surprisingly, on Friday morning, the students gathered outside the college and staged a dharna demanding the principal’s suspension.

Anticipating trouble, policemen had been deployed there in large numbers.

Nevertheless, they had a tough time preventing the agitators from trying to storm the college.

On being thwarted by the police, the students began throwing stones at them. West Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police C Ravi Varma narrowly escaped being hit.

At length, the police resorted to a lathicharge and as the girls ran helter-skelter for safety the locality was gripped by fear for nearly half an hour. Traffic came to a standstill for more than an hour till the situation was brought under control.

Later, Afsar Khan arrived on the scene and pacified the agitated students and their parents and held discussions with college authorities and the police. For her part, principal Annapurna apologised to the students.

“The students alleged that the principal asked them not to wear the burqa to college, but the latter has denied it,” Asifnagar division Assistant Commissioner of Police M Venkateshwar Rao said.

Shops in the locality were closed for nearly two hours, and the college was closed for the day.

‘Not against veil’

Asif Nagar police registered cases under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant) of Indian Penal Code against unknown people. Police said that no case was registered with regard to the burqa row as none of the students lodged a formal complaint with the police.

Speaking to ‘Express’, college principal Y Annapurna said some students were annoyed about the discipline insisted by Vani Degree College for Women. “Some students are against the discipline followed in our college and want to make an issue out of nothing.

From our side we will never insist on any student not to wear a burqa,’’ Annapurna clarified.

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