Leaders of the newly-elected Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union have taken umbrage at Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani's recent comments on the varsity and its Vice-Chancellor on the issue of women's rights.
Speaking at the installation ceremony of the new students' union, the office bearers described the HRD minister's "outburst" against AMU on the issue of access of undergraduate girls in the central library as a "veiled attempt" to disturb its autonomy and special character.
The union leaders assured the VC that they were solidly "behind" him in the wake of the recent "onslaught" against him in the media.
But in return, they said, the VC will have to ensure that the University ethos was preserved and the "growing corruption" in the university including reports of irregularities in admission were fully probed and rooted out.
"The country is facing dark clouds in the shape of imminent saffronisation of education and history. The very idea of India is under threat and all those who cherish the concept of a strong pluralistic India have to raise their voice and we are at the forefront of this protest," students' union president Abdullah Azzam said
Secretary of AMU's students union, Shahzeb Ahmad said, "The Vice Chancellor will have to assure us that he will not do anything which will damage the ethos of this university by compromising with external pressure to alter the culture of the university".
Vice President of the students' union, Masoodul Hasan said they would shortly be holding a dharna in New Delhi in support of their demand to restore AMU's minority character.
Addressing the students on the occasion at the university's Kennedy Auditorium, AMU Vice Chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah said, "A new government is in place and we have to initiate a dialogue with the new dispensation so that our genuine interests are preserved and protected. I feel that we should have good relations with the new government to create a positive atmosphere".
Referring to the allegations of rampant corruption in the university made by almost all student leaders at the ceremony, Shah said, "I deny such reports but if I am provided with any evidence to this effect, let me assure you that I will treat it with an iron hand."