Three students, during a convocation ceremony at SavitribaiPhule Pune University, protested the Puneripagadi, the traditional headgear associated with the city, asking that the Phulepagadi be used as a cap instead. They were detained by the police and released after counselling.
The Phulepagadi was a kind of turban worn by Mahatma JyotibaPhune, the 19th century social re-former known for bringing the light of knowledge to lower castes and women who were denied the right to education. From this year, the university has decided to do away with the British era black gown and cap worn during the convocation ceremony.
KuldipAmbekar, student leader of the LoktantrikJanata Dal; SharmilaYeole, student leader of the SwabhimaniVidyarthiParishad; and DayanandShinde, student leader of the Nationalist Congress Party were detained while protesting and taken to Chatushrungi police station.
Later, other student leaders including Satish Gore of the Students Federation of India; Vijay Nikam; and others made a donkey wear the Puneripagadi and paraded him around the university as part of the protest Ambekar said, “The university’s name has been changed to SavitribaiPhule Pune University as it was due to JyotibaPhule and SavitribaiPhule’s efforts that education reached lower castes and women. However, the Puneripagadi represents the Peshwai Brahmanism culture of oppression of lower castes. Despite that, the Pune university announced that the Puneripagadi would be used for the convocation.”
Yeole said, “When we began the protest during the convocation, the police picked up three of us and covered our mouths with their hands, stopping us from shouting slogans. Later, they took us to Chatushrungi police station and kept us there for four hours and released us only after taking it in writing from us that we would not repeat this again.”
A university official said, “The university hasn’t changed. The pagadi has been continued like last year… There is no change in pagadi. Pagadi was never an issue but still, students have raised the issue unnecessarily.”