Riya*, a student of Bachelor’s in Commerce in a Bengaluru college, was subjected to harassment by peers after she tested positive for coronavirus; she said that the ordeal has made her feel miserable. “Ever since I informed the institution of me testing positive for coronavirus, I have been mocked and harassed by fellow students, especially one boy, on our WhatsApp group. I have been called by students too who hurled abuses. I was being harassed and approached our teacher; she suggested I exit the group and stay away from my phone. She also asked me to not speak about the incident. The college management contacted me and my family and are coercing me into withdrawing the complaint with the National Students’ Union of India,” she said.
According to Riya, she was allegedly blamed and discriminated against, by her classmates, for testing positive and putting the lives of her peers at risk. Unable to bear the alleged torture, she approached NSUI, Congress’s student wing, coordinator Mohammed Fahad on March 16. She asked him to take action since she received no support from the college on the matter.
“I have been previously diagnosed with anxiety, asthma, migraine and sinus-related issues and the symptoms are the same as those of COVID-19,” said the student. She told TNM that her peers believe she attended college despite knowing she was COVID-19 positive and has acted “irresponsibly”. The boy, she said, went onto abuse her and also termed her medical condition fabricated to seek attention.
Members of NSUI visited the college on March 17, seeking suspension of the students who harassed the girl; the college authorities asked for two days to initiate action. The members protested against the delay.
“On March 17, we visited the college after she approached us. We spoke to the director and sought suspension of the student who was harassing her; they were requesting two days to do so. When we protested the delay, we were detained at Tilak Nagar police station for four hours. Some officers also used violence against our members,” said Fahad.
He added that MLA Sowmya Reddy had later joined them; live footage of the same can be seen on her social media page.
He told that eight representatives including three from college and five of NSUI were to meet before the inspector of Tilak Nagar and sort the issue on Thursday. The usage of obscene language and harassing someone when they need support is unacceptable and action should have been initiated but nothing was done, opined Fahad.
The student wing coordinator told that the college authorities have agreed and shall suspend the said student by evening of March 18 in the meeting.