Pinjra Tod Returns to Delhi University as Students Await Proctors’ Decision on Curfew Timings

Although the Pinjra Tod movement started with Delhi a few years ago, in recent weeks its epicentre has dispersed to various smaller cities across the country. Raipur, Bhopal, Patiala have all seen women protesting against restrictive, gendered curfews and other rules – and winning concessions from previously intractable administrations.

Last week, the movement’s wave returned to its founding ground, Delhi, where women in Delhi University’s north campus took up their old battle cry to ask for removal of hostel curfews.

Pinjra Tod called a protest on October 8 at arts faculty, north campus to demand a curfew-free existence.

On the day PTI reported that Pinjra Tod had submitted a charter of demands to the vice chancellor of the university on October 1, demanding that curfews be scrapped and hostel allocation guidelines be revamped. In the charter, they included a threat to stage a protest if their demands weren’t met in seven days.

With no response from the administration the following week, the students blocked the road outside campus on October 8 and even tried to scale the university’s locked gates. However, security personnel allegedly thwarted their attempts and even tried to physically assault them. The personnel, however, denied this allegation made against them.

A student of journalism, Suman Shekhar, posted this video on Twitter to show how Delhi police treated these protestors.

Mindful of their civic duties, students created a barricade on the main road but let ambulances pass through, letting no other cars or pedestrians cross.

Later the proctor agreed to come and hold deliberations with agitators. However, she did not say anything about complying with their demands.

A Times of India report quoted Devangana Kalita, Pinjra Tod member, as saying “The Deputy Proctor and the Proctor came to meet us but did not listen to our demands.”

While the protest continued on campus, the mall road blockade was called off after 10pm when some of the Pinjra Tod members were called to meet with the proctors.

The memorandum submitted to the university administration said that the administration has been rejecting the demands for the past three years, taking no necessary action to resolve the issue.

Besides asking for freer living conditions in the women’s hostels, the memorandum also demanded a separate hostel for students with disabilities; the setting up of an internal complaints committee (ICC) and strict implementation of SC, ST, OBC and PwD reservations in all women’s hostels.

Apart from Miranda House, no college in DU has agreed to look into the matter. “The Miranda House Principal Pratibha Jolly was pressured to come out and speak to the students who had stormed through the front gate. She agreed to put out a notice in the hostel making it clear that wardens are not allowed to call up parents without a student’s consent, they will not make sexist comments, there will be no curfew on food delivery, clean drinking water, and 24*7 medical facilities. The Principal also said that she is too ‘liberal’ to not agree to our demands and that she will address our removal of curfew demand by 30th Oct.” said Pinjra Tod in a Facebook post.

According to the Pinjra Tod protestors, the university proctors have decided to consider their demands after the mid-sem break (last week of October).

Students across the country have been constantly putting pressure on university authorities to remove restrictive curfew timings for women hostellers. There have been protests in Raipur, Ajmer, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar and Kottayam over the last few months. While some university administrations have taken steps to meet students’ demands, the hostel rules continues to remain discriminatory towards women at large.

Feature image credit: Twitter