The fest season has begun and so have the stories of chaos, harassment, and safety issues at these prestigious cultural festivals. Let’s see what went down at Tempest 2019.
Tempest 2019, the three-day Annual Cultural Festival of Miranda House took place from 14th to 16th February 2019. Reports of chaos, security breach, rape threats, and harassment arose on Day 2 and Day 3 of the fest.
On 15th February, a message from the Women’s Development Cell (WDC) was circulated for the girls to be safe as allegedly, some members of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) had barged into the college campus, and were acting very violently and threatening people with rape threats. An anonymous source from the WDC security team shared her experience, stating that on the same day she noticed something weird going on around the entrance to the barricaded women’s area. When she went to investigate, she saw a few men who were trying to intimidate volunteers into letting them enter. When she asked them to leave, they retorted, saying, “Aapko pata hai hum kaun hain? Humare saath Shakti Singh hai.” (Do you know who we are? Shakti Singh, the President, DUSU, is with us.)
When these people were blocked and not allowed to enter, they retreated but only with threats like “we’ll come back soon- just wait and watch” and “aaj 20 log laaye hai, kal 500 laayenge” (Today we have brought 20 people, tomorrow we’ll bring 500). She also added- “This kind of hooliganism has increased in the campus. There were men from Hindu College who had infiltrated the crowd, asking about the people who had taken part in the V-Tree protest the previous day.”
Anoushka Sharma, a second-year student from Delhi School of Journalism and a Copy-editor at DU Beat, also shared her horror story from Day 3 at Tempest. She stated that while entering the college on the third day of the fest, she was trying to show her media pass at the entrance to enter when a guy pushed her and said in a very rude tone- “Madam ji, kya kar rahi hain?” (Madam, what are you doing?). At first, she ignored but he was persistent and kept on insisting. When she told him about the media passes, he again said in a harsh tone- “Tameez nahi hai baat karne ki?” (Don’t you have any manners?). Seconds later, the guards opened the door and at that moment people started touching and groping her. She quoted, “The lady security guard had to hold me since I almost fell on the ground, and she told me to go inside through the lawns since there was less crowd there.”
Talking about the ruckus created at the gates, the Head of Security from Miranda House’s WDC told DU Beat that due to the crowd build-up at the gate, the Principal had to open the gate when 50 to 100 unidentified individuals without passes barged inside the college. She also added that men came up to her, and to the Vice-President of the Student Union to threaten them by quoting their support from DUSU. When they were refused entry, they said, “Agli baar toh fest hi nahin hoga.” (We won’t let the fest happen next time.” She added- “There was a sense of fear in the environment and the girls were uncomfortable by the presence of such people.”
When DU Beat contacted the Vice-President, she denied the story, saying that she personally didn’t hear any comments; however, due to the rush outside the gates, she talked to Shakti Singh who said that none of his people were involved in any such threats and misbehaviour. She also stated, “The passes said entry till 2 P.M. and people didn’t follow that which created more ruckus but actions were taken and things went smoothly later.”
These incidents are examples which show unsafe environment at fests. Even in a fest regulated with passes, unidentified crowd entered in mobs through the front gates and created a ruckus, not only threatening the attendees but also the organisers and volunteers. These prestigious annual cultural fests are the platform of growth and inclusivity which have now unfortunately become spaces for assault and harassment.
Feature Image Credits: Namrata Randhawa