Principal in firing line: parents protest at Udayan School

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In reaction to the incident of forcibly cutting off long sleeves of school girls’ uniform at Dhaka University’s Udayan School and College, parents staged a protest outside the school on Sunday night and placed the principal Dr Umme Salema Begum in confinement.

She later sought the help of the administration and was able to leave the premises safely after 2 hours at around quarter to 11 at night. 

However the school governing body has not been able to reach a decision regarding the main perpetrator of the sleeve cutting incident, assistant principal Mahbuba Khanom Kalpana.

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Before this, the school’s governing body called a meeting on Sunday 8pm to address the situation that evolved. Professor A. M. S. Arefin Siddiq, vice chancellor of Dhaka University was present in the meeting as a parent of the school. 

Sources from the board meeting say that VC Arefin Siddiq spoke of forming an investigation committee in the light of the incident of cutting sleeves. He also spoke of suspending Labour Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju’s wife Mahbuba Khanom Kalpana; who has been working on an extended contract.

However, in addition to the demands of the VC, members of the parent panel have also demanded that the extended period of Mrs Kalpana’s employement be cancelled and principal Umme Salema Begum be dismissed for instigating this act.

In the meeting, Umme Salema Begum objected to the cancellation of the extension of Mahbuba Khanom’s employement. She claimed that an investigation committee will be formed to investigate the incident while her employment is continued. 

She refused to budge from her position despite opposition to her proposal from most governing body members, including the VC of Dhaka University. At one point, this caused quite a commotion in the meeting. VC Arefin Siddiq left, after failing to bring the situation under control. Members of the governing body made several unsuccessful attempts to convince him to re-join the meeting.

Meanwhile this news caused further anger when it was circulated among the parents staging a demonstration in front of the school demanding the resignation of principal Umme Salema and the punishment of Mahbuba. 

At this point, parents locked principal Umme Salema in a room, demanding the removal of Mahbuba and another teacher by the name of K. G. Mostafa. They continued their demonstration outside the principal’s office.

She sought the help of the administration at this point and was rescued by the police and handed to her husband and safely escorted to her home around quarter to 11 at night. 

Parents then left the school premises, announcing further programs including continuing their demonstration and creating a human chain. 

Mahbuba Khanom Kalpana’s period of employment had ended three years ago. After that it was extended in two sessions. Finally, she was working in the position of assistant principal.

On 22nd of May Mahbuba Khanom Kalpana forcibly cut the long sleeves of at least 30 female students from 9th to 12th grade and warned that if rules are not followed, they will not be allowed to enter the school. 

She also ridiculed the religious practice of the students. This lead to widespread criticism once publicised in the media. Civic groups, along with religious organisations have expressed their outrage and condemnation at this. The condemnation was especially strong on social networking sites. 

Principal Umme Salema was contacted several times in relation to this but she refused to provide any comments.

Source: RTNN