Girls not allowed in AMU library, Irani calls it an “insult to daughters”

November 12, 2014

The Union government on 11th November sought an explanation from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) over not allowing access to women undergraduates to the main library in the campus, with HRD minister Smriti Irani saying it amounted to an "insult to daughters". AMU vice-chancellor's remarks that there would be " four-times more boys" in the library if girls were allowed in, also drew an angry reaction from the minister. The AMU, which was at the centre of a controversy over the restriction for women undergraduates, cited space constraints and refuted the charge of having a "sexist approach". Taking serious note of it, the human resources ministry sought explanation from the AMU vice chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah with Irani asserting that education and constitution rights were same for all. "...there are some reports which hurt you as a woman and also agitate 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 amount to insult to daughters," Irani said on the sidelines of a function in Delhi. Facing flak, the vice chancellor of the university gave the explanation 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 and there was "no fresh ban". He said there were over 4,000 female undergraduates and the library cannot accomodate them due to space constraints. His remarks also drew sharp reactions from several political leaders, activists and students as well. 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". Students of the Women's College are not allowed membership of the Maulana Azad Library, reportedly better stocked than the Women's College library. Several previous students' unions, too, had demanded access to the famed 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.

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