A school in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur city has made wearing of veils and scarves mandatory, other than banning mobile phones by students, leaving the National Commission on Women fuming over this diktat.
Set up on the roadside, the Muslim Jubilee Girls' Inter-College in Kanpur city is an easy site to spot with veiled students wearing backpacks huddling in groups as they briskly make their way to school.
With no lines of worry or regret, the school management has openly justified its decision by stating that the diktat is in accordance to Islamic culture, while boasting that parents of the students have not complained whatsoever.
"The scarf is a part of the children's uniform; the younger girls will tie scarves on their heads and not their faces. This is not threatening their freedom rather it is a part of their personality. Our older students mostly wear veils," said Kamal Shayini, the school principal.
She also said that mobile phones would hamper the studies of the student, hence justifying the ban.
With the school management making it clear that disobeying the directive would lead to immediate expulsion, students at the all girls Muslim school seem to have already accepted the diktat, some of whom were seen following the instructions.
All students have not welcomed the diktat; some feel it is an infringement of their rights and an orthodox way to ban access to technology.
Another student, who wishes to rebel against the school management, said wearing scarves was still acceptable but banning of mobile phones was objectionable in the times of rising crime especially against women.
Many educational institutions in India do not allow students to don a burqa (veil), which on several occasions have fuelled debates on relevance of traditional Islamic culture in modern times.
Meanwhile, the reports of the diktat have left the National Commission for Women (NCW) fuming, which is now demanding the state government to step in.
Chairperson for NCW Mamta Sharma demanded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to immediately take concrete steps in protecting rights and freedom of women in the state.
"Why is the government in slumber? Why is it not taking any action in this matter? The government needs to derecognise the school and instruct it accordingly against the diktat-ordering students to cover their faces and not use mobile phones. I think the government is at fault. The government should shut down such schools," said Sharma.
Diktats by religious or rural bodies curtailing freedom of women or gender-biased directives over usage of mobile phones etc. are not new in India.