Yesterday, in an apparent case of misplaced aggression, Deputy Proctor Swasti Alpana abused and snatched a Times of India (TOI) reporter’s phone. The TOI journalist was trying to record the violence created by ABVP members for evidence.
On Friday, some members of the Right-wing students’ association Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had come to meet the Dean of Students Welfare around 2 pm. When they came out, some of them broke flower pots outside the dean’s office and were soon joined by others. According to Press Trust of India (PTI), DUSU had demanded to resolve issue of 400 final year B.Com. students who had failed in Computer Applications practical examination.
The TOI reporter alleges that she was recording the vandalism on her cell phone and that’s when Deputy Proctor snatched her phone and threatened to lodge a FIR against her. The Deputy Proctor then asked the other journalists who had been speaking to officials there about the strike to sit in the Media Room. She was joined by another deputy proctor Ritu Chowdhary in the screaming act. Others in the office kept quiet even as the two women officials kept on abusing the TOI reporter.
When the TOI reporter requested the phone be returned, Alpana refused to budge. Instead, she ordered that all journalists be removed from her office and taken to a “media room”. However, about 20 minutes later, when the reporter went back to the office to ask for the phone she handed it over and quipped that the photograph could have been taken “in a certain way, subtly”.
After the incident was brought to light, Ms Swasti Alpana said in her defense that she mistook the trainee journalist for a Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) member, who was clicking her photographs without her permission. She reasoned, “I remember all regular journalists who visit the campus and this one was not carrying any identity card and I mistook her for DUSU member who was trying to click my photographs without my permission.”
Another journalist who witnessed the entire incident alleged that despite informing them about our identity, the two deputy proctors never stopped misbehaving.
However, a day after the incident took place, Ritu Chowdhary, Deputy Proctor, rendered an apology and a clarification. “I always stand for freedom of expression. I deeply apologise for not helping out the girl and not condemning the criminal act of Swasti Alpana. However, I never abused or shouted at the journalist. I condemn the criminal act of Swasti Alpana that she snatched the girl’s phone and bullied her,” she said. Talking to DU Beat, Ms. Ritu Chowdhary asserted that in the message she sent to the TOI journalist she offered to depose as a witness if TOI decides to lodge a FIR against the harassment.
(With inputs from Press Trust of India)
Image Credits: du.ac.in