The National Commission for Women (NCW) took suo motu cognisance of alleged sexual assault of students of Gargi College for Women on Monday, 10 February, and will send a team to visit the campus later in the day.
At least six students from the Delhi University-affiliated college alleged that they were molested by unidentified men during their college fest 'Reverie' on Thursday, 6 February.
Several other students and alumni, who attended the fest, told The Quint that there was a serious lapse of security on the night in question, with the college administration allowing people who did not have the required passes to enter the fest.
The students of the college will hold a protest march on Monday, 10 February, demanding “safe fest or no fest.”
What Happened at Gargi College?
A student (who did not want to identify herself), currently pursuing Applied Psychology, said that a crowd started gathering in large numbers as early as 3:30 pm outside the two college gates.
“The college has two gates – one of which is for women students and the other for male guests to enter. However, the one allotted for women was open for all, there was a huge crowd and the administration clerks who were supposed to check for passes and allow people, were allowing everyone.”
The incident happened on the third day of the fest when singer Jubin Nautiyal was scheduled to perform.
‘Security Personnel Took No Action’
Another student added that men who “were drunk and looked too old to be students” were also allowed to enter the fest. She also added that the security personnel present – from both the CRPF and the Delhi Police – did not help to control the crowd.
When asked by the students to help, the personnel reportedly said they were “not instructed” to act.
"At one point, I saw random men waving metro cards and getting in. They were drunk, they were climbing over gates to enter and they were simply not stopped. The police who were stationed, were simply seeing the whole thing, saying they have not been instructed to act,” she said.
The Quint reached out to the Delhi Police who said that neither the college administration nor students have filed a complaint. “We will investigate once a complaint is filed,” said Delhi Police Spokesperson Anil Mittal.
‘Hit on The Back, Groped’
A second year student from the college, pursuing a BA Programme, teared up while recounting how she was groped during the fest.
Speaking to The Quint, Fathima said that she had to rush out after the incident, but could not do so.
“While we were trying to get out of the crowd, it was so suffocating! There wasn’t even space to breathe. In that time, I was hit on my back by someone, I was groped and I couldn’t even get my hand behind me to push that person away. It was a horrible experience.”Gargi Student
Students took to social media platforms to narrate the ordeal faced by them.
An alumni, who did not want to be named, said that at least two-men “felt her up” but her cry for help went unnoticed as people just stood there watching.
“It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. The men who were inside were putting their hands on anyone and everyone and kept moving. I wanted to rush out, but I couldn’t find the space. I am so angry with the students’ union and the college administration.”
Students Union Blames Admin, Principal’s ‘Appaling’ Statement
Multiple students also told The Quint that Gargi College Principal Dr Promila Kumar asked why students attended fests where they didn’t feel safe.
“Why come to the fests, if you do not feel safe,” she was heard saying to women students.
Students called her statement “infuriating and appalling” and demanded that the college release a formal statement about the incident.
However, students are also equally blaming the students union, which have simply released a “Google form” for collecting information but have not taken any responsibility for failing to act at the time.
“I even saw instances of many male students who climbed on a table right next to the main stage and were saying “jo larki pategi usko 50,000 ki makeup kit free dunga” and this all was happening right under the nose of the union members – who were safely tucked inside the barricades.”Gargi Alumna
A Repeat of Last Year?
Following last year’s fest, over a hundred students filed a formal complaint with the college administration.
The college and the students’ union had therefore decided that students will be given passes, with which they can bring a plus one guest.
“This was done to keep the crowd under control. However, what was the use when the administration decided to let everyone inside anyway?,” asked a student, adding that this year’s experience was “much worse” than last year.
(The Quint has reached out to the Students’ Union and the College Administration. The copy will be updated when they respond. The names of students have been changed to protect their identities.)