Kolkata: At a time when a section of students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are up in arms over appointment of a Muslim Sanskrit teacher, a man from the minority community selected as an assistant professor of Sanskrit by a city-based college on Friday said he was overwhelmed by warm welcome from students as well faculty members.
Ramzan Ali has been chosen to teach Sanskrit at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in Belur, on the outskirts of the Bengal's capital.
He joined his new assignment on Tuesday last. He earlier taught at a college in North Bengal for nine years.
Ali said he was overwhelmed by the kind reception he received from the students and faculty members.
"I was welcomed by principal Swami Shastrajnandaji Maharaj, and everyone... Maharaj told me that my religious identity was not important, what mattered was my grasp over the language, my in-depth knowledge and my ability to share it with the students," Ali told PTI.
The Belur-based institution is a fully residential degree college for boys affiliated to the University of Calcutta. It was founded in 1941 by the Ramakrishna Mission.
It got the 11th NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) in the college category in 2018-19 academic session from Union HRD ministry.
Asked about the agitation in Uttar Pradesh-based BHU, Ali said he would not like to make any comment about another educational institution, but "I believe Sanskrit embodies India's inclusiveness, its rich culture. Don't forget Sanskrit is the mother of all languages. How can anyone bar people from other religions from learning and teaching Sanskrit?"
A section of students at BHU has been demonstrating against the appointment of Feroz Khan as the assistant professor of the varsity's Sanskrit department. Although the BHU authorities backed him, Khan has not been able to take classes.
The university tweeted on Thursday that the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan has reopened after days of protests.
Unlike the BHU professor, Ali, who is in his early 40s, said he never faced any discrimination as a Sanskrit teacher.
"I never felt that I was out of place or unwanted while studying or teaching Sanskrit. Here, at the Belur college, the management has arranged for my accommodation and ensured that I do not face any inconvenience," the assistant professor maintained.
A student of the Sanskrit department at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira said he was looking forward to attending Ali's classes.
It is "unfair" to question the religious identity of a teacher, he said.
"Ali sir has just joined, so far I haven't had the opportunity to attend any of his classes. I am looking forward to it," the student added.
The principal of the college could not be contacted for his comment.
Ali said since the time of joining the college on November 19, he is liked by students and has even joined their 'adda' after class hours.
"I have already taken classes of first and second years and the students have showered me with love. Some of them have even commented why I did not join before the Teachers' Day on September 5 so that they could have shown me their love and respect. And I tell them his greatest reward will be if they follow teachers' words."
Ali said after class hours, "they have invited me to their adda in the playground in campus and I am participating as a friend and a guide. I have also joined them in sports activities after classes and played football and cricket with them."