Aligarh Muslim University vice chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah has rejected the demand of students of Women’s College for access to the organisation’s Maulana Azad Library, saying if girls were permitted in, there would be “four times more boys” in the library.
In a bid to justify his order, the VC had said: “The issue is not of discipline, but of space. Our library is packed.”
Later, the VC, while talking to a news agency, continued to defend his decision, saying: “We are not at all sexist. We want women empowerment and certainly don’t want to segregate our girls.”
He, however, added that the library cannot accommodate more students and all the books in that library are available online.
In a bid to save face, the VC said students face trouble in travelling due to chain snatchers as library is far from college and this fact cannot be ignored.
Taking a note of the incident, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani has, meanwhile, sought report from the VC on banning girls’ entry to the library.
The Women’s College was established in 1906 and the Maulana Azad Library was set up decades later. Students of the Women’s College were never given membership of the library, which can seat 1,300 at a time.
Women students are angry and upset.
“Aren’t we part of AMU? At least let us borrow books, if we can’t sit inside,” said one student.
Another complained, “We have not even looked inside the library. Don’t we deserve this facility? We only wanted library cards.”
Backing Lt Gen Shah’s stand, Women’s College principal Naima Gulrez said: “We understand the demand for access to the library. But have you girls ever seen the library? It is jam-packed with boys. If girls too were to be present in it, the discipline issue might crop up.”
The Maulana Azad Library has reportedly better stock of books than the Women’s College library. Women’s College students were never given membership of the library.
Taking exception to Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor’s statement, National Federation of Indian Women general secretary Annie Raja on Tuesday said the VC doesn’t deserve to occupy his post.
“This shows the diseased mindset of the VC. He is not fit to sit in that position. Even the latest law says that if any person who follows women, it’s a crime. And if the VC fails, if his accusation is right, then he should take action against all those boys,” said Raja.
“If they say that boys are coming so there is not much space, then this is the question of their infrastructure. They should address the question of infrastructure rather than stopping girls. The library is meant for all students,” she added.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rashid Alvi also condemned the controversial statement as unfortunate and said that such remarks do not suit a VC.