The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Saturday withdrew its order,issued earlier this week,that asked residents of its womens hostels at Abdullah Hall to wear proper and decent-looking dresses,i.e.,salwar kameez with dupatta,both in or outside the hostel.
As the diktat drew criticism from various quarters,the AMU authorities last night withdrew the circular while clarifying that it “never even remotely suggested that jeans or T-shirts or any other dress is on the ban list at AMU”.
“We have no intention whatsoever of specifying any dress code and neither did the above circular do so. All that we have sought is that students including girls should be in a decent attire which reflects the ethos of our society.
“In any case the above circular was issued not by top university administration but the provost of one of the halls of residence,” said Brigadier (Retd) S Ahmad Ali,AMU’s Pro-Vice Chancellor,who is holding charge as the acting VC in the absence of Lt Gen Shah.
The students had been told that they can keep only one mobile phone whose number is known to their parents because,according to the university authorities,many students use their phones to speak to boyfriends on the sly.
The women had also been told that they cannot visit cinemas,restaurants and hotels.
The restrictions had been put up on the noticeboards of the six hostels that make up Abdullah Hall,and in which nearly 1,300 students of AMUs Womens College stay.
Ali said there are five halls of residence for girls in AMU and one out of these had issued an advisory mainly dealing with rules and regulations including the compulsory presentation of ID cards while entering the girls’ hostels.
“The above circular was issued by the Provost of Abdullah Hall and not by any senior university official. Even then,we have asked the provost to withdraw the above circular so as to remove even an iota of doubt regarding the sincerity of our intentions,” he said.
Ali also refuted media reports claiming that use of Internet and social networking websites was banned in the university’s hostels.
“I was quite shocked to read media reports alleging that we have banned the use of Internet and social media for girls. This is a total fabrication as in fact we are in the process of implementing a project under which every student of the university who resides in the hostel including girls will have a direct access to the Internet facilities in their rooms,” he added.
The Acting Vice Chancellor expressed unhappiness saying the media reports had distorted the image of our institution.
“There is no question of our trying to impose any retrograde ban,” he said.
Ali also added,”ever since a new administration assumed charge at AMU about a year back,we are leaving no stone unturned to modernise and revitalise the entire edifice of this historic institution.
He said during the first year,the main effort was to get rid of all unlawful and mischievous elements who had in the past brought a bad name to this institution.
“We are also moving on the fast track for upgrading and modernising the academic system to take this institution to the very top in the country. During this process,we appear to have stepped on many toes and perhaps we have to pay the price for having disturbed the vested interests,” he said.
In April,AMU vice-chancellor Lt Gen. (retd) Zameeruddin Shah had,in an open letter to students,instructed male students to wear sherwanis when they came to meet him. The university had also asked women students to dress according to the customs and traditions of AMU.
Women students who do not abide by the new restrictions would be fined Rs 500,the notice had said.
Residents of Abdullah Hall are allowed to go out to shop or meet their guardians on Fridays and Sundays. They may have male visitors on designated days,but cannot bring them inside the hostels. Even before the new ban on visiting cinemas and restaurants,Aligarhs main market,Centre Point,situated down the road from Abdullah Hall,was out of bounds for the women.
Abdullah Hall provost Dr Ghazala Parveen had said she was not conservative,and the restrictions were precautions against indecent incidents.
It is all precautionary measures. The dress code is indicative; outside the hall,they can wear anything,but not inside. But they should be properly and decently dressed. I am a liberal and have no problem with the dress code but then they need to give an undertaking that if any indecent incident happens,I will not be held responsible, Dr Parveen had said. She said the restrictions on going to movie halls or restaurants were in place last year too.
The provost said the ban on more than one mobile phone was to prevent hostel residents from speaking to their boyfriends,and if any student wished to have a lavish lifestyle,she would have to leave.
I have ample proof when they had another phone whose number was not in our records,they used it to talk with their boyfriends. Even parents complained to us. And if any girl is interested in a lavish and luxurious lifestyle,she may take a room outside the hostel, Parveen had said.
Well known social activist Annie Raja described the new dress code for female students at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as condemnable and utter nonsense.
Interacting with media here,Raja said: “This is nothing but curtailing the freedom of the girls. It is condemnable and utter nonsense.” (With PTI inputs)