Unfazed by the row, AMU VC Zameer Uddin Shah stood by his controversial comment on girl undergraduates’ entry to the university library even as the HRD Ministry sought more details from him about rules which bar girls from getting access to the main library.
The HRD Ministry, which received a report from Shah this morning, asked for details as to when these rules were framed and by which body of the university, sources said.
Shah in his report had said that the rule was in vogue since inception even as there was unrestricted access to girls from both undergraduate and post graduate level to get books issued.
The sources said there was, however, a consensus for augmentation of the library’s capacity to accommodate all students.
Meanwhile, accusing the media of escalating the issue, Shah said he “meant” what he said and stood by his comments.
“I will not retract from my statement, I am quite clear on that. I did not mean to demean the girls. If people, who are now pressing for them, if they have misunderstood me, my apologies, that is all,” he told a TV channel.
“I am telling you, my girls do not expect me to crack jokes at them. I do not take liberties with them. I meant what I said. If people have misunderstood me, I am offering them my apologies,” he said.
Shah’s remarks had evoked sharp reactions, with HRD Minister Smriti Irani deploring the statement, terming it as an “insult to daughters”. The VC clarified that undergraduate girl students studying at the off-campus Women’s College do not have access to facilities of the Maulana Azad Library since it was established in 1960 and there was “no fresh ban”.
He had said arrangements are already there in place to deliver within 24 hours any book which is available at the main library and is not there at the Women’s College Library.
Meanwhile, AMU’s Women’s College Students’ Union (AMUWCSU) and AMU Students’ Union (AMUSU) organised a joint protest in the town alleging “biased media reports” over the issue.
“We are deeply outraged by the manner in which the media has distorted our demands for access to Maulana Azad library and presented it in a highly biased manner,” newly-elected president of AMUWCSU Gulfiza Khan said.
Meanwhile, Shah said his image remains “untarnished” after the incident at least in the university as his students know that he is there for their good.
But he said that “there certainly have been attacks from the media to malign my image and that of Aligarh Muslim University. It (the image) has certainly suffered but not in AMU.”
Asked whether he feels that he and the university were targeted by the media, he said, “It was hardly matter for all channels to report. I am well aware of the media’s efforts to criticise Aligarh Muslim University. If similar things happen anywhere then it is neglected. AMU gets what is undeserved.”
Specifically asked so as to why he thought the university was targeted, Shah said, “You know, the entire country knows what the biases are.”
Questioned whether he meant to say that the university was targeted because of the ‘Muslim’ word in its name, he said, “Not at all. It is a secular university, it is not being targeted for that.”
When further prodded so as to why he feels that AMU is being targeted, he said, “Only the media can tell.”