New Delhi, Nov 11: Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice chancellor Lieutenant General (retired) Zameer Uddin Shah’s statement regarding girl students visiting the library has irked Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.
Expressing anguish over the controversial comments, Irani said: “It is unfortunate that when entire nation is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, such statements have surfaced.”
Speaking to mediapersons here on Tuesday, she said: “It’s not only saddening as a woman but it also instils a feeling of resentment.”
Refusing to make any direct statement on this issue, the minister said: “I have sought information from the higher education secretary. Only after collecting all information, will I be able to make any comments.”
Shah had been quoted as saying that the girls had been denied access to the Maulana Azad library because “boys will flood the library if girls are allowed and there isn’t enough space.”
The Centre has reportedly taken note of this statement, and the HRD minister sought a report from Shah on the same.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General (retd.) Shah in his defence said that he had been misquoted, adding that the university stringently works to provide equal rights and opportunities to women.
“We are not at all sexist, we want women empowerment, certainly don’t want to segregate our girls,” the AMU VC said.
“These reports are completely wrong, I said there is not space for even a single seat in that library,” Zameer Uddin Shah said, adding: “that all the books in that library are available online.”
The AMU-VC cited security concerns to defend his diktat, adding “Students also face trouble in travelling due to chain snatchers as library is far from college, we can’t ignore this fact.”
It may be noted that students of the Women’s College are not allowed membership of the Maulana Azad Library, which is better stocked than the Women’s College library. Several previous students’ unions, too, had demanded access to the Maulana Azad Library, located within AMU and 3 km from the Women’s College.
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 readers at a time. The library also has 12 seats reserved for women students of AMU.
(With Agency Inputs)