The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was today at the centre of a raging controversy over not giving access to women undergraduates to the main library in the campus, evoking sharp criticism even as government sought explanation over the “insult to daughters”.
The AMU cited space constraints and refuted the charge of having a “sexist approach”.
Taking serious note of it, Human Resource Ministry asked explanation from the AMU Vice Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah with Minister Smriti Irani asserting that education and constitution rights were same for all.
“…there are some reports which hurt you as a woman and also agitates you that when we attained freedom there was a belief that education and constitution rights were same for all….and now we get reports that amounts to insult to daughters,” Smriti Irani said on the sidelines of a function in Delhi.
The Vice Chancellor’s remarks that allowing female undergraduates will attract “four times more boys” to the library, added fuel to the fire.
Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah termed the Vice Chancellor’s remarks as “appalling” and “shocking” while the new MoS in the Ministry Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said such remarks were “not acceptable in a civilised society”.
Terming Shah’s statement as “regressive and antediluvian”, National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam wondered “Is it legal for them (AMU) to bar any student regardless of gender from accessing such services in a university?
The Vice Chancellor’s explanation that there was no fresh ban and 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 found few takers.
He said there over 4,000 female undergraduates and the library cannot accommodate them due to space constraints. “There will be no place even to stand (if this is allowed)” he said.
Shah noted that all postgraduate girls and women research scholars “have been enjoying round the clock access to the Maulana Azad Library since its inception” and rejected allegations of gender bias, terming them “not only erroneous but mischievous and defamatory”.