The Mumbai police have detained a group of students protesting in front of Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University (SNDT) against a circular directing students to wear ‘decent’ and ‘formal’ clothes.
In a show of defiance, around 10 activists belonging to student organisation Vidyarthi Bharti, most of them girls wearing shorts, raised slogans against the university’s circular. They also had a meeting with the SNDT University officials, including vice-chancellor Shashikala Wanjari, and demanded the withdrawal of the circular within five days.
The incident occurred on the day when the university held its 66th convocation, which was attended by Maharashtra governor and university’s chancellor Vidyasagar Rao.
Police officials present on the spot cited security reasons for detaining the protestors.
“If more than four people gather at a spot, we are permitted by the law to detain them. With the governor visiting the university, security measures need to be stringent,” said a police official.
In an earlier statement, Rakesh Sutar, vice-president of Vidyarthi Bharti, said, “The university and its student welfare department shouldn’t decide what girls should or shouldn’t wear.”
Puja Bedekar, state president of Vidyarthi Bharti, said they have issued an ‘ultimatum’ to the university to withdraw the circular within five days. “The officials told us that the directive cannot be overturned immediately, as it was decided by a committee,” she said.
Meanwhile, the university officials rued the “unnecessary” attention to the issue. An official said the circular didn’t ban any particular dress and simply asked the girl students to wear clothes appropriate for an educational institute. “The circular was issued after the vice-chancellor spotted a girl wearing a brasserie-like top,” she said.
In a statement, Wanjari said, “ We all know what is decent and formal in the context of classroom and academic institution premises. The circular... is in no way an assault on ‘right to wear’ for students.”