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Women Residents of AMU's Indira Gandhi Hall Want 'Dictator' Provost Removed; No Way, Says V-C

Updated: October 18, 2016, 7:53 PM IST
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Women Residents of AMU's Indira Gandhi Hall Want 'Dictator' Provost Removed; No Way, Says V-C
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Vice Chancellor Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah. (FILE PHOTO: MANOJ ALIGADI)

New Delhi: The Indira Gandhi Hall at Aligarh Muslim University has become the hub of the latest confrontation between students and authorities, with residents of the women’s hostel sitting on a dharna and starting a signature campaign against the “dictatorial” provost, Farukh Arjmand.

The students, who have been protesting at the main university campus, have accused Arjmand, a chemistry professor at AMU, of “moral policing”, “misusing administrative power” and “curbing women’s rights”. They allege that the provost has repeatedly questioned their “character” and “threatened” them with expulsion.

They want the provost, an alumna of the varsity, to either step down or be removed, a demand the administration is in no mood to entertain.

Vice Chancellor Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah says the demand is not legitimate and the girls want the provost gone as “she takes no nonsense”. As a stop-gap arrangement, however, Arjmand was placed on administrative leave, following which the girls returned to the hostel.

“We are supposed to be in the hostel by 6:30pm. Even if we are ten minutes late she questions our character. It is suffocating,” says a student on condition of anonymity.

The latest trigger was the invite to a cultural event at the main AMU campus. A resident of the Indira Gandhi Hall said the invitation was extended to women students as well but they were forced to miss the programme as they were provided with a 12-seater van for 750 girls against their request for buses.

“The provost denied us permission to attend the cultural programme at the main campus, which is 2km from the hostel. The invite was extended to both boys and girls. We requested the administration to send buses for girls. But the provost did not do the needful. Instead, we saw a 12-seater van for 750 girls,” says the student.

“In response to the misuse of administrative powers of the Provost, IG Hall, we the residents demand immediate change of our provost – as she has been a dictator, suppresses every genuine issue by threatening us of expulsion, passing comments on our character and dragging our parents and family on every petty issue (sic),” reads the students’ letter to the administration.

The provost could not reached for her comments.

The administration has sent her on leave and “necessary action will be taken when normalcy is restored”, says Vice Chancellor Shah. Asked about the students’ demand, she says, “There is no legitimate demand. The girls want a change because the present provost is strict and takes no nonsense.”

The Indira Gandhi Hall was inaugurated in 1995 for post-graduate women students of the AMU. Students of bachelors degrees also reside there.

The official page of the hostel says: “The Hall promotes self-dependent life of the student.”

But Shadab Bano, faculty in Womens’ College, AMU, disagrees. “The patriarchal rules for girls in the hostel must go. The administration cannot tamper with the rights of women students and seek refuge in entrenched patriarchy. The AMU administration committed to Constitution cannot impose such rules on adult women on campus. The administration should come out now. What exactly are the rules for women students in the campus and why these vary from hostel to hostel?” she tells News18.

The confrontation, ironically, comes days after the “unprecedented” election of three women candidates to the ‘cabinet’ of AMU’s students’ union.

It also comes amid a row over the institution’s minority status case in the Supreme Court.

First Published: October 18, 2016, 6:36 PM IST
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