Pinjra Tod Adopts No-Negotiation Policy; Holds Nightlong Protest on Miranda House Grounds

After months of sparking insurrections in smaller cities around India – Ajmer, Aligarh, Bhopal, Patiala to name a few – the Pinjra Tod movement has been revivified at its home base in Delhi University. On October 8, Pinjra Tod called for a protest at DU’s Arts Faculty building to demand the scrapping of hostel curfews in addition to need-based hostel allocation, access to clean water at all hours and accessible accommodation for persons with disabilities.

Despite the protests being largely ignored by the university administration, the movement is finding support at St. Stephens, Ramjas and Hindu colleges among others. This time around, their efforts have been focused on Miranda House, where students settled in for a nightlong protest yesterday, October 30. This comes after the Miranda House administration released a statement on Monday, October 29, informally extending curfew hours by half an hour. A Whatsapp message from the college administration read that Miranda House would be “extending the deadline from 8:30 PM to 9 PM” and “offering some extra night outs on weekends.” Exasperated with what they see as stopgap measures designed to subdue female outrage, the organisers of the movement asked for nothing less than an all out ban on curfews, rejecting the administration’s incremental promises.

Students at Aligarh Muslim University protesting with Pinjra Tod. Credit: Instagram/ Pinjra Tod.

Students are particular outraged because they see these measures as the Miranda administration’s efforts to dress up its image before a scheduled evaluation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). On October 29, Miranda House students released a statement outlining how they were expected to behave in a “civil” manner, not sleep in the lawns or have food “here and there” while the checks were happening. The students were particularly indignant about a series of room checks by the hostel administration which they saw as a clear violation of personal space. These instructions seemed in particularly bad taste considering the already heated tussle over student freedoms in recent weeks.

In a similarly bitter turn, Miranda’s principal Pratibha Jolly, who earlier declared herself too “liberal” to not agree to student demands, has been conspicuously absent since yesterday’s protest started. A tweet by Pinjra Tod revealed that she was on a flight to Bengaluru despite being told that yesterday was “judgment day.”

However, hope still lives on.  In a small victory, Miranda House’s administration has agreed to change students’ emergency contacts from a parent to any person of their choice. But perhaps Pinjra Tod’s biggest victory is its determinedly intersectional nature. The movement doesn’t just draw support from one particular religious or ethnic group but boasts members and supporters from across the religious and political spectrum. Campaigning has also been targeted at bringing minorities to the fore, such as a sit-in for International Working Women’s Day at Jamia Milia Islamia University and campaigning for better accessibility for students with disabilities. It remains to be seen whether this intersectionality will extend into some concessions from the university administration.

Featured image credit: Pinjra Tod/Facebook