New Delhi: On Monday, more than 100 students at Gargi College gathered outside the building to demand immediate action against a group of men who gatecrashed the campus and assaulted women on February 6, during the college’s cultural fest – Reverie.
After an hour-long meeting between the college principal and the students, the college authorities filed a complaint with the Delhi Police, PTI reported.
The Police have registered a case under sections 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 354 (assault to women with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended or insult the modesty of a women) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
On the third day since the incident took place, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his government would not “tolerate” such behaviour.
गार्गी कॉलेज में हमारी बेटियों के साथ बद्सलूकी बेहद दुखद और निराशाजनक है। इसे क़तई बर्दाश्त नहीं किया जा सकता। दोषियों को पकड़ कर सख्त से सख्त सजा मिलनी चाहिए। और ये सुनिश्चित हो कि हमारे कॉलेजों में पढ़ने वाले बच्चे सुरक्षित हों।
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 10, 2020
“Misbehaviour with our daughters in Gargi College is very sad and disappointing. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerate. Culprits should be give the harshest possible punishment and we must ensure that children studying in our colleges feel safe,” he tweeted.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh also gave a Zero Hour notice in Rajya Sabha over “indecent behaviour” with students, ANI reported.
On February 6, a group of drunk men allegedly barged through the college’s gate while the fest was underway. Outsiders could only enter if they had a pass but the men, students say, managed to enter while police personnel and the college’s security guards looked on. Police had been present on campus because of the fest, said students.
“There were around five men from the administration who were present at the two entry gates but the perpetrators managed to walk inside when the gates were opened for a car to enter. It wasn’t, of course, possible for them [the security persons] to keep the men out. Also, we were told that the police will be present for safety, the bouncers will be there, and barricades will be put up, but none of that happened,” a student said, requesting anonymity.
The men, according to students, molested women, masturbated at them and created mayhem inside the campus.
“Most of the men were drunk, middle-aged and definitely not college students. I saw them myself but luckily, I walked out early. And while I was coming out, I saw girls on my way who were vomiting, feeling really bad and crying. My friends were sexually assaulted and they are so traumatised that they couldn’t even turn up for the protest today,” she added.
Some of the students tried to get inside the police barricade near the stage but they couldn’t, despite several attempts. The police, on the other hand, was trying to regulate the crowd from inside the barricade while clicking selfies with the singer who had come to perform.
According to students, they reached out to both the college staff as well as the police, but didn’t get any justified response in the aftermath.
“The policemen were just standing while the mob of men went around molesting the students. And when we went to the college staff and teachers, they shooed us away and just asked us to stay within the barricades,” Karnika, a student, said.
The men then followed some women up to their PGs and hostels as the latter ran from campus in search of a safe place.
The issue, students say, is not about the pass system but how the matter escalated despite the arrangements.
Not the first time
Students say that this isn’t the first time that students have been sexually assaulted during fests at colleges under Delhi University. “We hear about incidents of sexual assault every single year. And not only here, colleges like Lady Irwin, Lady Shri Ram, Maitreyi, Kirorimal, Hindu – every DU college has had a case of sexual harassment during cultural fests,” said another student.
This time, they say, the fact that it was a case of “mass sexual harassment” has made sure that it cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore.
In 2017, a student of Miranda House was masturbated at during a college fest in Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. The police registered a case when the student filed a complaint of sexual harassment and cyberbullying. The latter was after she was severely trolled online for sharing the incident.
Featured image credit: Special arrangement