In an alleged incident that has left many students of Delhi University’s Gargi college traumatised, several women students alleged that they were groped, molested and sexually assaulted by drunk men on February 6. The incident happened on the evening of the third day of the college fest ‘Riverie’ in the all-girls institute and the girls alleged that the men were shouting ‘jai shree ram', but they were however not sure who they were.
Students of the college are staging a sit-in protest on Monday against the incident, while the National Commission for Women has also taken cognizance of the incident and has a team on campus. The women students have said that there were serious lapses in security, and all this happened even as the police officials were present for security during the fest.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also reacted to the incident, condemning it, and assuring the strictest punishment for those found responsible.
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
The Delhi police has received a complaint from the Gargi college authorities in the matter a case under sections 452, 354, 509 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code was registered at the Hauz Khas police station.
Meanwhile, the issue was also mentioned in the Parliament on Monday. Replying to a question of Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi in Lok Sabha, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said “outsiders” were behind the alleged molestation of students at an all-women college in Delhi and the administration of the institute has been told to take action.
"Those who were involved in the incident were outsiders and not students. It was not a good incident. The college administration has been told to take action in the incident," he said during Question Hour.
The incident blew up on social media with many women recounting incidents who being allegedly groped, assaulted, masturbated it by the men who barged into the fest. While the fest was open to male students from DU, several accounts described the perpetrators as “middle-aged” and “pro-CAA protesters”.
Mayhem happened at #GargiCollege today and literally no one is talking about it. Our girls were assaulted by drunk men. Amplify, take it to right channels please. @richa_singh @iamrana @abhisar_sharma @aaqibrk @hussainhaidry @tanwer_m pic.twitter.com/XXyDaVGVeQ— Saumya Kulshreshtha (@Saumyakul) February 8, 2020
2/n Being a girls college, its supposed to be a safe space for its students and women in general! By allowing random strangers in the campus we are just sending the message to them that we really dont give a shit about your safety. This is UNACCEPTABLE.— Waah Modi Ji Waah (@mojitoandfrappe) February 7, 2020
4/n This whole narrative that the Student Union is creating by blaming the Admin. Of the college is a bunch of bullshit. I’ve volunteered in the fest before so I know how the union is always guiding about who and who should not enter.— Waah Modi Ji Waah (@mojitoandfrappe) February 7, 2020
The JNU Students Union also responded to the allegations, expressed solidarity with the students of Gargi college, and condemned the incident.
The women of JNU are victims of the depravity that these flag-bearers of Hindutva and Nationalism embody.— JNUSU (@JNUSUofficial) February 9, 2020
That the police, govt.& even the college admin is trying to protect these leeches, is condemnable but unsurprising.
We stand in solidarity with the students of Gargi College. https://t.co/dUoQZGCGpk
What the women said
"Girls were groped, locked in washrooms, stalked to the nearby Green Park metro, cat-called, eve-teased and misbehaved with during the festival," read the blog of one of the students of Gargi College.
The blog added: "The men were allegedly shouting 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans that made us presume they had 'Hindutva/BJP' affiliation. We don't know how true this is as those who witnessed the episode are scared to come forward.”
A second-year student of political science told IANS over the phone, on condition of anonymity, that "around 6:30 p.m. on February 6, the field was so massively crowded that there was no space to move. Two of my friends who were accompanying me, they had held my hands so that I don't get lost in the crowd as there is no cell reception on the field. Suddenly immense pressure came from behind and my hand got jerked off so I lost my friends for the next 10-15 minutes, and in those minutes, I was molested thrice."
"I was groped thrice, somebody reached for inside my skirt and the problem was I couldn't move out of it," she said in a choked voice.
"Somehow I struggled and moved out and ran towards the empty space behind the stalls. By that time, I had found my friends, they looked at me horrified, but they didn't know what had happened to me as I didn't want to talk about it. So they went to get water, and would have been gone for just around 5 minutes, but in those five minutes I saw that a 30-35-year-old man began masturbating while looking at me, so I ran from there too," she added, narrating her ordeal.
Another student from the college said: "Around 3-3.30 p.m., large groups of men started pushing the doors and then entered the college. There were no police personnel or bouncers present at the gate from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. when 300-400 people entered the college.
"The college grounds are small, with little place to move around, and that is when some of these men started groping, molesting and harassing us."
The student also alleged that when she approached the college principal Promila Kumar, she responded by saying that I should have not come to the fest if I felt so unsafe.
Contacted by IANS, the principal, however, said: "We had a huge security arrangement, including police, bouncers and even commandos along with the teaching and non-teaching staff, on duty. No one came to us and reported any such incident. We were taking rounds in the crowd. However, there is no doubt that it was very crowded. We were very vigilant but we couldn't see anything of this sort."
"It is a serious incident and I will deliberate on it. It is a matter of serious concern, but unfortunately nobody has reported it to me," she added.
Asked about the student's allegation that she was not helped when she reported the matter, Promita said: "This is a false allegation. One of the students did come to me, so I asked her to stay with me until the situation became normal, but she disappeared suddenly."
(with PTI and IANS inputs)