With a white dupatta over her head, and sparkle in her eyes, Naba Naseem carefully balances herself on the backseat of a black Bullet. As Aiman, another young woman, revs up the ignition, the engine begins to roar like a lion.
The duo is flanked by four more women, atop scooties in bright red and dull white. It’s an assertion of autonomy, a symbolic display of the very thing they are demanding in their college.
And in the process, this edgy exercise gloriously dents the image of Aligarh Muslim University’s Women’s College as a mere wife-manufacturing institution.
This is an offshoot of a similar rally of AMU women whose video celebrating their election victory on bikes had gone viral in December 2017.
For the first time, it happened in the Women’s College. All of us felt good at this expression of freedom by women... It went a long way in changing the perception that only men can hold such rallies.Naba Naseem, President, Women’s College Students Union, AMU
Give Us Freedom
Taking forward the agenda she had promised in her election manifesto, Women’s College Students Union President Naba Naseem has been demanding outing for the women on all seven days. AMU’s Women’s College hostels currently permit outing only on Sundays.
Naba had won with 967 votes, while the second position had been clinched at 847 votes.
While the boys of the university living in hostel halls like Mohammad Habib and BR Ambedkar have timings till 10 pm and are not penalised even if they come after the curfew, the rules are not the same for women.
We can go for an outing only on Sundays, that too from 10-5 pm. That is unreasonable.Sibtey Sughra (BA second year), Cabinet Member and the Cabinet Secretary of this college.
“It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity for these women,” says Naseem, adding that because of this very denial of exposure to the women students, “the girls aren’t able to find new opportunities, and are ultimately reduced to just one aim – to get married”.
Indeed, the spectre of protection haunts women, and denies them all the opportunities that come with studying at a well-respected university like AMU.
“I want the girls to be free, for them to be exposed to more opportunities”, says Sibtey Sughra, a BA second year student and a cabinet member of the college.
Adds Fabeha Ahmed, the Hony Secretary, “ We all have the ikhtiyar, or the right to this freedom”.
An old alumna of the university tells us how, for years, these rules have been maintained through the weapons of shame, punishment, humiliating calls to parents complaining about the character of their daughter, and severe admonishment.
Is it a happy geographical coincidence, then, that while discussing their right to freedom, a brick red structure next to them has the words inscribed, “Jo abr yahaan se uthega, wo saare jahaan pe
Producer: Puneet Bhatia
Editor: Ashish MacCune
Camera: Abhay Sharma
Naba Naseem has accused The Quint of ‘manipulating’ and ‘fabricating’ her responses.
Here’s the full unedited version of her interview with The Quint:
As requested by Fabeha Ahmed, here is the full video of her interview with The Quint.
Here is the statement that she sent to The Quint:
I do not endorse nor support the views as portrayed by your platform in the given news item (https://www.thequint.com/videos/aligarh-muslim-university-women-leaders-demand-freedom-rally-on-bikes). The uploaded video in itself is made up of “cropped bites” of the originals, in my regard. I have stated that I would like to stand with our traditions. One should always remain connected to his/her roots and should not only preserve them but also to take them forward with modernity. You have used only one of my sentences as to fit your own desires and if you would have shown my full statement in video then it would be clear that I have not endorsed the view as of the others. As far as 7 days outing is concerned, i always stood with the fact that this is not feasible, even during my election campaign, qualifying speech and my address in installation ceremony I repeatedly enunciated that we shall demand for a Friday routine outing, just like Sunday. With ulterior motives known to you, you have not only curtailed my statement to a single sentence but also have used the designation “Cabinet Secretary” with the name of a Cabinet Member, Miss Sibtey Sughra, to confuse the readers that the statement made by her is mine. Please publish/upload my whole statements without curtailment and a corrigendum, otherwise I’ll be forced to take a legal action in civil court as well as press council of India.Fabeha Ahmed, Honorary Secretary