Students at Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) in Delhi are continuing their protests for the third day, demanding the resignation of the principal. The demonstrations were organized in response to a recent incident where men scaled the walls of the campus and harassed female students during an annual festival event. The protests also address the police’s action against the students who were protesting the incident.
The protesters are calling for action against the men who harassed students, asking principal Poonam Kumria to talk to students and address their concerns, and calling for her resignation.
“Yesterday (31 March) after a peaceful protest that began at 11:00 AM, we formed a human chain in an effort to prevent the principal from leaving campus without addressing our concerns. Despite our peaceful approach, the principal enlisted the help of over 30 police officers, Sagar Singh Kalsi, the DCP, and the Delhi University protector to forcibly disperse us. During this chaos, many students were pushed over, stepped on, and caught up in a stampede as the principal escaped,” Arundhati, a student at IPCW told Maktoob.
“Furthermore, we were locked within our own campus until the principal left in her car,” she said.
“We, the students of Indraprastha College for women, have been through the entire course of these 3 days with great strength and hope, and we need further support to strengthen our cause. We are being surveilled – digitally and otherwise and soon might be threatened with suspension or other disciplinary measures. It is our appeal to all people who stand stand by constitutional values to be with us in our fight for a freer campus, a freer society for women,” read a statement by the student collective of IPCW.
While narrating the ordeal of Friday, the student collective of Indraprastha College for Women said: “The men were chanting Jai Sri Ram (a slogan used by Hindutva groups which translates to Hail Ram). Other slogans raised were “Miranda, IP dono Hamare hain” (Both, Miranda and IP belong to us (men)). “Miranda nahin chodha, IP bhi nahi chhodhenge” (If we didn’t spare Miranda, we won’t spare IP). The police was absent at the time of necessary crowd control. After 15 minutes of the stampede, police came, shut the gate and immediately started to manhandle and beat up our non teaching staff and guards. When our female guard interfered, the policeman hit her as well. Upon being confronted by a student volunteer, the policeman aggressively said “Tu chup reh, hoti kaun hai tu yeh sab bolney ko” (Stay shut, who are you to even tell me all this).”
It went on to say: “Some men on campus were in an inebriated state and were outrightly harassing women. When the volunteers asked them to leave the campus, the men responded by saying, “hum kyu jayein? ladkiya dekhne aaye hai, dekh ke hi jaayenge” (Why should we leave? We are here to look at girls, and we won’t leave before that). They misbehaved with the volunteers, tried to grope them, and even spat gutka on some. There are also several accounts of men stalking women for hours on campus. Finally when the crowd got out of control, the principal and other authorities announced that the concert had been cancelled. The principal ordered the volunteers to ‘get the girls out’, in another conversation with 2 volunteers, the principal said ask the girls to leave, if the girls leave, the men will follow’.”
It added: “There was no attempt to remove the hooligans from the campus that made the college an unsafe space. This was the narrative till 5:30 pm. At around 6:00 P.M., things changed and it was announced that the concert would take place; and it started at 8:00 PM. Asees Kaur, the artist who performed, shared a post on her instagram story, where she was ‘excited’ about the stampede for her performance, this story was later taken down. In another Instagram story she shared after the show, she is seen thanking the Delhi Police (who were of no significant help) and the students of IP college. She thanked the students for waiting for more than 5 hours to attend the event. However, the majority of students of IP were forced to move out of the campus and were not able to attend the event.”
According to students, there were two protests on Friday. The one held inside the college campus was described as “non-banner”, while the protest at Arts Faculty, North Campus was organized by Left-affiliated student groups, including the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and AISA.
Student alleges admin ‘warned’ her family of arrest
A student has alleged that her family received a call from the college administration that an FIR might be filed against her for taking part in the protests.
“We had a march call today around 11 am, and my parents got a call from somebody from the administration, saying that your daughter has been a part of protests in college, and that in future, there can be an FIR filed against her after which she can also be arrested. They said, ‘This is your responsibility… we’re just warning you to get her out of this…’” Indian Express quotes Shambhavi Chaudhary, a second-year student at IPCW, as alleging.
“Later, I calmed my parents down. Only my parents have received such a call so far. They were concerned and asked me not to be a part of the protest, but I told them that there were 200 other students protesting at the college and they cannot take action against everybody…,” she said.
Shambhavi is also a north zonal convenor of the All India Students’ Association (AISA).