The Punjab government on Tuesday withdrew its order which banned teachers from wearing “indecent and provocative” clothing in schools. The order, issued on Monday, had sparked outrage among the teaching community.

Punjab Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary has suspended two department officials with immediate effect because of the kind of reaction the order triggered among teachers. She suspended deputy director Amrish Shukla and assistant director Amarbir Singh who had passed the order without consulting senior officials.

“These instructions reflect an old mindset, and I do not agree with them,” Chaudhary said. “[Telling] what girls or ladies should wear is not done. We are encouraging girls to do their best in their respective fields and this defeats the whole purpose,” The New Indian Express reported her as saying.

Choudhary further claimed that the ministry will not tolerate any offence to the dignity of the nation’s teaching community. She called out against the regressive thinking behind the order and said that it should be condemned in today’s day and age when women’s empowerment is the focus of the hour.

The order had directives that ensured that lady teachers in government schools do not wear jeans, tops, bright-coloured suits and fashionable dresses as it is a “bad influence” on students. It was issued to all Circle Education Officers and District Education Officers of Punjab. It even instructed all district officials to regularly conduct checks in schools to ensure no teacher wears such clothes.

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However, teachers, who constitute more that 50% of employees in the state’s education department, deemed it as a “Talibani Farmaan”.

Shukla did try to defend his order by saying, “These instructions were issued in 2012 and again in 2014. We just reiterated them, but we should have checked the oversights with the government first. A letter had come to the chief minister’s office that teachers do not wear decent clothes in schools and it was marked to the department, hence the orders.”

Picture credit- The Hindu