It was ‘pagdi vs pagdi’ at Savitribai Phule Pune University convocation programme
Various students’ outfits created a ruckus during the 114th convocation programme at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) on Friday over the varsity’s decision to replace colonial convocation robes with Indian attire, including Puneri pagdi, as the ceremonial dress code. The police had to be called to remove the protestors from the venue.
Dayanand Dhome, Chatuhshrungi police station incharge, said that three youths were detained and taken away from the venue. “The youths raised slogans against the university saying that it had spent money to buy pagdis, but were not giving fee concessions to needy students. We detained and released them after four hours,” Dhome said. The student organisations, led by National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) youth wing members, said Puneri pagdi is historically associated with the Peshwas and hence, Phule’s pagdi should be honoured and included in the ceremonial dress code.
SPPU authorities declined to comment on the issue. The issue of Puneri pagdi, often associated with Peshwas, who were Brahmin prime ministers during the Maratha kingdom, first landed into controversy earlier this year after NCP chief Sharad Pawar removed it and instead wore a Phule pagdi during a function.
Earlier, the SPPU had decided to change the convocation attire and directed students to wear Kurta pyjama along with Puneri pagdi instead of the traditional British gown after Satyapal Singh, Union minister of state for human resource development, suggested need for bringing in change in robes.
NSUI’s Satish Gore said, “The members of NSUI and NCP students’ congress jointly protested by placing a pagdi on a mule to raise the issue on the university campus. After a short while, the police detained all the members of the respective organisations for almost four hours. We had informed the university that Phule’s pagdi has national contribution and Peshwai pagdi must be avoided. The vice-chancellor’s office has been informed a number of times, but all our pleas fell on deaf ears.”
NSUI demanded that Phule pagdi be honoured instead of a Brahminical Puneri pagdi because Puneri pagdi has no contribution for education. Sambhaji Brigade also protested the university’s decision. Santosh Shinde, president, Sambhaji Brigade, said, “Pune pagdi denotes casteism. We will not allow Pune pagdi as a convocation gear henceforth. The pagdi of Mahatma Phule should be made as a mandatory headgear for convocation as it signifies equality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nitin Karmalkar, vice-chancellor, SPPU could not be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.