The Centre on Tuesday sought an explanation from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) over Vice-Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah’s comment that women undergraduate students should not be given access to the Maulana Azad Library, the main library on the campus.
Mr. Shah triggered a massive controversy when he said on Monday that there was a huge space constraint in the library and if undergraduate girls were allowed access, there would be “four times more boys.”
Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani condemned the remark as “an insult to our daughters.” “There are some reports which hurt you as a woman,” Ms. Irani said. The Human Resource Ministry has written to the university seeking a review of the rule which denied women undergraduate students access to the main library. The Vice-Chancellor denied charges of being “sexist.” He said women postgraduate students and research scholars were already using the library. But undergraduate women students who had a well-stocked library in their own college would crowd the main library.
Not a fresh ban, says AMU V-C
Under fire for not allowing access to women undergraduates to Maulana Azad Library, AMU Vice-Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah on Tuesday said the norm has been in place since the library was established in 1960 and there was “no fresh ban.”
The V-C said arrangements are in place to deliver within 24 hours any book which is available in the main library and not at the Women’s college library.
“Students also face trouble in travelling due to chain snatchers as the library is far from the college. We can’t ignore this fact,” he added.
“The issue of permitting undergraduate girls will have to wait until we create necessary extra space. Once the infrastructural issues are resolved and arrangements for safe transport for girls are made, we would certainly have no objection in permitting these girls have access to the central library,” he said.
“We are not at all sexist. We want women's empowerment and certainly don’t want to segregate our girls,” Mr. Shah said.
AMUSU president Abdullah Azzam said the “V-C’s statement is irresponsible and in bad taste. It distracts from the core issue, which is upgrade of women’s college library and facilities.”
Women organisations, meanwhile, took strong exception to the V-C’s alleged remark that if undergraduate girls were allowed access to the library, there would be “four times more boys” in the library.
National Front of Indian Women general secretary Annie Raja said, “This shows the diseased mindset of the V-C. He is not fit to sit in that position. They should address the question of infrastructure rather than stopping girls. The library is meant for all students.”