The reason for turning down the plea is that allowing girls into the library would be a distraction, in the same way that cigarettes and alcohol are. The Vice Chancellor feared that allowing women to use the library would attract “four times more boys” to the building and that “discipline issues might crop up”. The Maulana Azad Library has a seating capacity of 1,300 but only 12 of those are reserved for women. Students from the Women’s College have never had access to the library.
This is not the first time the Vice Chancellor has been embroiled in controversy. Here is a look at five previous debates he has been involved in.
About a year ago, AMU suspended access to Facebook on its network from 9am to 5pm. The official response from the public relations officer Rahat Abrar was that “students were getting distracted by it”. This came on the heels of the suspensions of a member of staff and a university professor. The member of staff was suspended after he made posts on Facebook thought to be derogatory. The professor, Nadeem Rezavi was suspended in July last year after a post on Facebook calling the Vice Chancellor “be aql” or foolish.
In the middle of 2013, the Vice Chancellor came into the limelight when he said that if male students wanted to meet him, they should be wearing sherwanis; female students were ordered to be "suitably dressed". All male students, at the time of admission, are expected to pay Rs. 800 for a sherwani provided by the university.
AMU banned motorcycles in April last year because the VC said this was a symptom of the excessive hooliganism of students. Motorcycle gangs roamed the campus freely, indulging in anti-social activities, he said. If a student could afford a motorcycle, he could can afford to live outside of campus as well, added the VC, urging that bicycles be used instead.
Limiting mobile phone ownership
Shah hasn't won all his battles. Last July, he issued a diktat ordering residents of the women’s hostel at Abdullah Hall to wear "proper" and "decent" clothing, like salwar kameezes with dupattas. They were also told that they couldn't visit cinemas, restaurants and hostels. In addition, they were only allowed to own one mobile phone which their parents are aware of so that they don’t get "distracted" by talking to their friends or boyfriends. The order was withdrawn after widespread protests.
In September, the Vice Chancellor sparked another row when he used the phrase "namak haram" or disloyal, allegedly in reference to his staff during a seminar on the eve of Teachers’ Day on September 4. Teachers claimed this wasn't the first time he'd made this accusation. However, the university spokesman said that Shah's remarks were not aimed at the staff but at "disgruntled people".
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