The National Commission for Women has extended its support to the ongoing campaign for allowing non-professional undergraduate women students in Aligarh Muslim University access to the Maulana Azad Library. The NCW has written to the Union Human Resource Development Ministry expressing its concern over “the gender discrimination”.
Faculty members and students, who have been demanding an end to the “discriminatory” practice that does not allow students from Women’s College access to the MAL, had approached NCW Member Charu Walikhanna who visited the University in April to intervene in the matter.
“Not allowing women, who are pursuing a course in Arts, access to the library which is regarded as the second largest university in Asia is a serious denial of fundamental rights. The exclusion of women from the library is denying them the basic right to education,” Dr. Walikhanna told The Hindu .
In a letter to HRD Minister M.M. Pallam Raju, Dr. Walikhanna has pointed out that while women students of medical and engineering colleges and the polytechnic are allowed to use the MAL, it is only Women’s College students who are denied this facility.
“NCW is gravely concerned with what appears to be an issue of gender discrimination, denial of equal access to the resources of the University and exclusion of women from the right to education, a basic right to life…” the letter from NCW states.
In February 2012, the HRD Ministry had issued an advisory to the University to make amends. The then HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal, had expressed concern that AMU had taken no steps to end the discrimination, despite an advisory from the Ministry.
Representations have also been sent by several women's activists and associations, including senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat, protesting against the “discrimination”.
“The University administration keeps making excuses to keep the students from Women’s College out. The latest that we heard was that the administration has said that students from Women’s College are not being allowed to use the library because it is not safe for them to step out. What about the other girls who use the library and the day scholars who commute everyday? Also, if safety is the reason, then the University can arrange a bus for them to commute safely or the proctorial team can accompany them. The city administration can be urged to ensure more safety for the students,” said Chandni Bi, executive committee member in Aligarh Muslim University Teachers' Association (AMUTA).
The Hindu was the first to carry a report in September 2011 on the discriminatory practice followed by the AMU authorities.