What it takes to be a hosteler in AMU? | Shafey Anwarul Haque

The role of media seriously turned subtle, beguiling and disappointing with respect to some institutions, especially Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which has, since long, served as a victim of prejudice and artifice. Now, I needn’t tell anyone the obvious difference between the reality, interpretation and portrayal. Something happens, half of what happens becomes interpretation and the portrayal puts away the whole “something”. But the process is not done with the role of media only, it also takes those who are either too gullible to understand things or too perfect to contrive.

Referring to some restrictions in Abdullah Hall of AMU, Hindustan Times report dated Oct 08, 2016, said, “We can’t even step out to buy medicines”: AMU girls battle sexist rules in hostels”

Can anyone please explain me what is so ‘sexist’ in the rule confining female students in their hostel? Can anyone please make it clear what makes it so persecuting or discriminatory? Well, I tell you, I have been a part of that prestigious institution for not less than eight years. I know, eight years are not enough to explore all the dimensions of an institution with diverse faculties, thoughts and ideas, like AMU. But trust me, eight years are not too less to know some necessary dimensions, prerogatives and most importantly obligations.

Law students in AMUSU election campaign in front of boys’ hostel. | Photo: Sharjeel Usmani

I tell you in Aligarh, I started a completely new and unfamiliar life at Allama Iqbal Hall, which till 2006, allowed the resident members to spend the whole night inside or outside the premises, according to their wish, but then, following some unfortunate incidents in 2007, hostel rules closed the gates after 9:00pm and restrictions fell as tempest. I would not say that we were some innocent or very obedient students, we made our way outside the hostel after 9, we discovered at least 4-5 routes other than the main entrance. Although, we looked at it as an unpropitious decision, but we never ever found it bigoted, prejudiced, discriminatory or whatsoever synonyms you use to express your adamant opinions. And two years back, when I was busy collecting some more cherishable moments, I heard about reformation of Allama Iqbal hall into a boarding house and now residents in the hall are  allowed outing only on Sunday.

The report added, “We cannot wear shorts in corridors and have to cover our heads with a dupatta at dinner because there are bhaiyyas serving us. Girl students feel under constant watch. There are CCTV cameras installed at the front gate.”

After Allama Iqbal Hall, Sir Ziauddin Hall opened its doors for me and like the previous one, even this hall enfettered me to some traditions. The word “Traditions”, as we all know, runs parallel to Aligarh Muslim University, and unlike other institutions, seniors in AMU preach traditions more than anything else. When I became a part of Sir Syed Hall (North), same traditions accompanied me there also. But at times, I felt they were more an obligation than tradition.

Let me tell you what those traditions were and I guess even today, they sustain. Firstly, we were not allowed to wear Kurta Pajama outside our room, not even while going to dine, and we too had “bhaiyyas” to serve us meals. Surprisingly, I could not connect “not wearing Kurta Pajama” and “Bhaiyyas” in dining hall. Secondly, we were not allowed to use slippers outside the hostel premises, not even while going to dhabas or library canteen at night. But believe me, there are other things besides knowledge, which represents us, adds some genes to our identity, makes us a little different, and it is not necessary every time to compare ourselves with all the worldly splendors. There were people including me who did not like some of those traditions, but protest with the help of media, against them, we did not find feasible even.

I needn’t tell anyone the obvious difference between the reality, interpretation and portrayal. Something happens, half of what happens becomes interpretation and the portrayal puts away the whole “something”. But the process is not done with the role of media only, it also takes those who are either too gullible to understand things or too perfect to contrive.

The major problems, boys come across during their stay in AMU, come along either with hostel allotment, or mess just after summer or winter vacation. In the girls hostel, meals are served in the  presence of even one resident, but in boy’s hostel, strength is more important than empty tummies. and again, they need a solution but giving up in the hands of  media, so that they can report it as, “homicide in starvation” would hardly serve the purpose.

It further addressed the issue of Abdullah Hall and said, “In the nine hostels inside Aligarh Muslim University’s Abdullah Hall complex, girls say hostel rules are draconian and infantalise them”. “We are allowed only one outing in a week on Sundays,” says Siya (name changed), a resident scholar. “We must take the permission slip from the wardens a day before, if we need to leave the hostel on any day other than Sunday. This actually means we need to send a fax to our parents who must fax us back their permission.”

Yes, I totally agree that you are allowed only on Sundays to visit the ‘beyond Abdullah world’ and that is possible only if you are permitted by the hostel authorities. That’s right. But please tell me what is so special about other days starting from Monday to Saturday? Please note that I’m not asking why you should not go like your male counterparts, but I’m asking those declared lucky boys, what do they get outside the hostel everyday apart from some commodities or confectioneries? The same question applies to me also. Honestly, I got nothing special, except General Education Centre (GEC) and then dhabas. I may agree that students from Women’s College should be permitted to visit various clubs under GEC, according to their interest or there should be some provision to avail such opportunities within the Women’s College. And hostel canteens are substitutes for dhabas, and not only girls, even boys can resist giving 100% attendance at dhabas. Now, even if anyone finds it insufficient, the issue is not worth allowing the media to add fuel to the fire.

I tell you, I rarely saw ambulance taking any residents of the boy’s hostel to the medical in case of emergency, but residents of Abdullah Hall get that on just one call. Now, don’t you tell me that I don’t know how things work in Abdullah, my own sisters had been a part of it that and I am totally aware about the facilities, provisions and stipulations there. By mentioning these examples, I don’t want to show the contrast, rather, I want to show the hidden picture. The one, female students barely know and the absence of which, project rules in their hostel as ‘sexist’.

Look dear! differences and disapproval are congenital but criticisms make the outcome better or worse. Our institution was established equally for both men and women. More importantly we become a part of an institution for some months or years, and in the meantime, we have our rights and equally our duties. I really don’t understand why we fight for our rights every time but hardly acknowledge our duties. Rules, clauses and orders are not meant to be favored every time and followed rigidly, but “what is not right is not always wrong, what is not wrong is not always right likewise.” It is of course the duty and responsibility of the administration to devote themselves to the service of the students but what about us and our duties? Do we owe nothing to he institution? Do we owe nothing to that vividly determined old man? Are we not liable to pay for his sincere and long-lasing efforts? Yes, we owe, we owe a lot, we owe more than anyone else.

Women students in Union Hall lawn during final speeches | Photo: Sharjeel Usmani

Your problems are genuine, and they should be considered more honestly. You also have the right to fight for your rights but fight it on your own. You have your newly elected Student’s Union, make it strong, make it tenacious, work with them, force the authorities to hear you and provide what all you want, but if you directly hand it over to media, then remember, they set the agenda and make you dance around it. I hope you remember the report published by The Indian Express, on July 27, 2013. which headlined, “AMU withdraws diktat on dress code, eating out, talking to boyfriends” and then in 2015, the issue of undergraduate female students’s visit to Maulana Azad Library, the Times of India highlighted, “Girls in AMU library will ‘attract’ boys: V-C”. Being an alumnus, I tell you, this is not the solution to your problems, but it may turn out as a problem before any possible solution. It does not apply to the female students only, even their male colleagues shoulder equal responsibility. Remember your institution, remember your worth, remember your dignity, in words of Allama Iqbal’s Talba-e-Aligarh College Ke Naam

Auron Ka Hai Payam Aur, Mera Payam Aur Hai
Ishq Ke Dardmand Ka Tarz-e-Kalaam Aur Hai.
Jazb-e-Haram Se Hai Farough Anjuman-e-Hijaz ka
Iss Ka Maqam Aur Hai, Iss Ka Nizam Aur Hai.

Published on: Oct 10, 2016 @ 16:56

Awaam India

Awaam India

Awaam India is online platform founded by researchers and senior students of Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. Awaam stands for dissemination and promotion of progressive and constructive ideas in the society.

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