As the fest season unfolds, students offer a sharp assessment of Delhi University’s fest advisory, highlighting the associated concerns.

In light of recurring security and management lapses at Delhi University’s fests, the university has issued advisory/guidelines to be followed by all colleges and departments regarding the organisation of various programmes and events. The 18-point advisory, which has been updated three times between April 2023 and January 2024, focuses on the necessary rules of pre-registration of attendees, submission of their details to the police, and also a requirement of a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the police, among the various other guidelines. A guideline among the 18 others mentioned: ‘Entry for events should be through pre-registration, like on Google Forms, with details of the event, i.e., date, venue, and the expected number of participants (to) be maintained and submitted to the police with a copy to other departments. The registration forms should include scanned copies of the college IDs of participants.’

Speaking to DU Beat, Rajnish Sah, a member of the Organising Committee of ‘Mecca’, Hindu College’s annual fest said:

It is almost impractical to keep an adequate track of all the records and documents on all the potential entrants and hand them over to the police. It might be feasible for small departmental events, but for events like annual fests, where people attend in thousands, it just proves to be an additional strain on the already burdened organising committee.

When asked about the tight cap on the number of attendees allowed to attend the festival, he added:

DU is known for its exposure and its exchange among the students, especially during the fest season, when students from various colleges connect. Tight attendance limits may hinder the fest’s true purpose.

The university-issued festival advisory guidelines also mention that ‘the concerned college or department is solely responsible for any untoward incident during any event organised by the concerned college or department.’

Considering the following statement, Rajnish added:

Putting all the responsibility of any incident with the college and authority would just put a constraint on the level of a fest. It is impractical to hold the college accountable for every incident that happens.

Anubhav, sponsorship head at Nexus, the annual fest of Sri Venkateswara College, supports this and adds:

The college can be held accountable only up to an extent. It is also necessary to ensure that the legal responsibilities are taken up well for the smooth conduct of a fest.

He also added that currently, there are no significant sponsorship issues arising from the attendance cap.

As per reports from The Hindu, a student claimed that there has been a problem in extracting sponsorships for the events:

Sponsors are brought on board based on the number of attendees. With a cap on this number, agreements are becoming increasingly difficult to secure.

–  said Harsh Dalal, President of the Student Union of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), which will host ‘Crossroads’ in the first week of April.

The report also mentions how some students believe that the advisory would ensure security and make things better for the organisers.

Pre-registrations and controlled entry will make things easier and improve the quality of the fest.

–  said Aman Choudhary, president of the student union at Sri Venkateswara College.

 In March 2023, a group of men allegedly entered Delhi University’s Indraprastha College for Women by scaling the boundary walls and harassing students when the college celebrated its annual festival. A similar incident had also occurred in 2022 during Miranda House’s Diwali Fest, where men were allegedly seen climbing the college walls and indulging in ‘cat-calling and sexist sloganeering’. The rising and repeated cases demanded an advisory to regulate the incidents. As per the fest-advisory guidelines, ‘Prior to any big event in the institution, there should be an assessment of the boundary wall of the college. If found low, concertina wires should be installed to prevent outsiders from scaling the walls.’

A representative from Maitreyi College’s Student Union (identity withheld for anonymity) says:

Where are the notices outlining the repercussions for intruders if another incident occurs again? You can raise the walls, but when will you actually hold the intruders responsible for disregarding the boundaries? How can one ensure that the registered attendees do not create any nuisance on the college campus?

The representative acknowledges that the college has implemented strict measures like applications, registrations, and identity checks for issuing passes to outsiders. However, they highlight that there is no restriction on the number of passes a student from the college can acquire due to the ‘monetization’ of the passes. They then continue and add on to the ‘budgeting issues’ with regards to maintaining security at DU fests:

Since the beginning, many DU colleges have continuously encountered difficulties in securing adequate funding. Things like the security arrangements and illumination of the dimly lit places as per the advisory need funding and resources.

Continuing her statement, she asserts that colleges cannot and should not be solely accountable for all incidents occurring within the campus, stating that the fest-advisory guideline serves merely as a means to deflect legal responsibilities.

Read Also: The Invasion of IPCW: A Student’s Account

Featured Image Source: The Indian Express

Dhairya Chhabra

[email protected]


Against the background of an ongoing onslaught on the University’s gender-minority colleges, we seek to explore what it means to exist in DU’s so-called ‘safe spaces’ and why any threat to their sanctity must be dealt with the gravity of an ‘invasion’.

Introducing yourself as the student of a women’s college is an act that elicits a wide range of responses. From blatant objectification of yourself and your peers as ‘dream girlfriend material’ to feigned concerns about how the institutional absence of men is hindering your ‘holistic’ development, it is evident that gender-minority spaces are no safe haven from patriarchy. If anything, patriarchy operates in covert ways within and outside the walls of these institutions.

Beyond sexist stereotyping and disparaging remarks, it manifests as the very real and physical threat of gender-based violence, of which these students often become primary targets. As our campus witnesses a rise in public displays of male entitlement and territorial chauvinism, it is imperative that we learn to contextualise these incidents and understand that no violation of a safe space happens in isolation.

Before delving into the subject of gender-minority spaces and what threatens them, it is crucial to understand what these spaces symbolise for their students in the first place. The very need for exclusive spaces for women and gender minorities points to a history of sexual violence that has endangered these groups for simply existing in public. Delhi itself hosts the track record of being one of the most unsafe metropolitan cities for women in the country, with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recording 14,277 registered cases of crimes against women in the Union Territory in 2021 alone. The fear of violence is thus statistically backed up and deeply embedded in the collective psyche of gender-minority groups, who are forced to live much of their lives on ‘survival mode’.

In the midst of an overwhelming threat to life and autonomy, gender-minority spaces emerge as a cocoon of safety for historically marginalised groups. Hence, Priya Agrawal, a student of the Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW), Delhi University’s (DU) oldest women’s college established in 1924, comments,

There is a reason why our parents and relatives feel very comfortable with the fact that their daughter is in an all-girls’ college. They feel that she’ll be safe there.

In fact, this dichotomy between unsafe public spaces and the safe space of gender-minority colleges is epitomised by the daily experience of commuting to the latter. Any student of these institutions is all too familiar with the sense of relief that rushes over you as soon as you step inside your college gates and are no longer bound to check the length of your skirt or feel the gaze of a man staring down your chest. As Sobhana, a student of Miranda House, relates,

The journey from my house in Vijayanagar to the Miranda House campus, which is no longer than 3 minutes by rickshaw or 10 if you walk, gives me more trauma and catcalls than the entire day I spend on campus.

It is apparent why, despite the conflictual nature of the inner workings of these colleges, they hold sanctity as a form of ‘private space in public’ universities (to borrow author Shelly Tara’s idiom, who used it originally in the context of women-only coaches on the Delhi Metro).

All of this is not to paint gender-minority colleges as infallible institutions above any and all forms of discrimination. Caste, class, religion, queerness, and other social cleavages dictate the inner anatomy of these institutions, and indeed, the very notion of a ‘safe space’ comes to be contested in the face of social hierarchies and exclusionary cliques. Any sense of safety is accorded on the basis of privilege and it is crucial that we keep this intersectional standpoint at the back of our minds while examining the remainder of this issue.

So, it is not the case that DU’s gender-minority colleges represent some sort of progressive, feminist utopia, but more so that they unite students under the banner of shared experience and solidarity against patriarchal injustice. Payal Krishnan, an LSR alumna from the batch of 1996, says,

Even in a women’s institution, you would routinely face instances of internalised misogyny and homophobia, and it takes time and dedicated efforts to shatter. Just stepping inside a women’s institution doesn’t automatically make you a certain way. But luckily, we always had people come out in support of individuals and communities which were discriminated against, and that unwavering support and dedication towards creating a safe space is what mattered.

Despite the numerous problems that permeate such institutions, she speaks of a “culture of cooperation, respect, and holistic growth” and concludes, “There is power in the collective.” This power—this collective front put up against the omnipresent violence of gender norms—is what poses an existential threat to patriarchy. While it is not within the scope of this article to delve into the rich history of these colleges, it is true that dominant society has always felt a sense of unease in the presence of such highly-educated and liberated women. Whether it be the 1990s matrimonial ads declaring ‘Girls from JNU, LSR or Miranda House need not apply’ or the aforementioned judgemental remarks, the autonomy of gender-minority spaces has always existed as an open challenge to the hetero-patriarchal foundations of our society.

Perhaps it is this challenge, this daring not to conform, that has resulted in the repeated targeting of these spaces and attempts to infringe upon their boundaries. Case in point is that of the recent DUSU election campaigning rallies that have barged into women-only campuses, but also of much earlier incidents, such as the 2020 Gargi College fest, the 2022 Miranda House Diwali mela, and the 2023 IPCW fest. It is evident that these are not isolated incidents but rather a pattern of invasions that legitimises male entitlement to spaces clearly not meant for them. Even relatively normalised behaviours, such as men deliberately hanging around outside women’s college gates, are not to be dismissed either, since they form the root of this very patriarchal problem of ‘space and who occupies it’.

The cases of women’s college fests being invaded by men are some of the most publicized events within this scenario. These incidents, which become grounds for rampant sexual harassment in the form of catcalling, groping, and unwanted advances, and actively put the students’ safety at risk, have been meticulously covered by national media houses as well. What is often left out of the conversation, however, is the aftermath of such events. Sharing her traumatic experience during the IPCW fest invasion and how that permanently changed her perception of the college environment, one student relates,

The purity of the place was gone for me. I did not go to college for 1-2 weeks straight because there were many protests, but also because I didn’t feel like it. Many of my friends didn’t go either. Even months after, as soon as we’d enter, we’d get flashbacks from that night.

It should be made clear then that men climbing walls and trying to barge into gender-minority spaces are not a case of them doing just that. These are incidents that reinstate the fear of violence and re-establish the norm of male proprietorship over women and gender minorities. They serve as a painful reminder to the latter that no space that they construct with love and care for themselves is truly theirs forever. It is forever dangling under the threat of patriarchal violence and could be overcome, at any moment, by the ever-destructive male ego. As the above-quoted IPCW student went on to share,

Even after all this went down, people still don’t realise that this was not about a college having a concert, where people simply climbed the walls and chaos and stampede happened. No, it’s not about that. It’s about men trying to enter the space of women, trying to harass us in our own spaces, and telling us, ‘We can come here too; what will you do about it? Your administration is not going to help you out either.

Indeed, it is only within this context that one can begin to understand the visceral reaction of gender-minority students against their spaces being invaded. Recently, when the political rallies for the DUSU 2023 elections barged into Aditi Mahavidyalya and Miranda House, students of both colleges were quick to label these as ‘invasions’ and expressed dissent against them. Unfortunately, they were dismissed under the claim that such hooliganism is just ‘part and parcel’ of the DUSU election fever. Such statements, that ring too close to the common adage of ‘boys will be boys’, fundamentally fail to understand the sanctity that safe spaces hold for gender minorities and the reason why they might get so protective about them.

It is no far-fetched remark to also suggest that the way elections season has panned out over the past month in DU has been nothing but a display of power under patriarchy. Yes, money and muscle power reign supreme in this University’s (and by large, the country’s) electoral politics, but must we be so quick to accept that as the norm, as students and conscious voters? Must we allow our gender-minority spaces to be violated for the sake of more noise and pamphlet-litter? Of course, one also wonders why it is always the same political outfits, like ABVP and NSUI, that choose to engage in this chauvinist brand of student politics. Perhaps, someone will tell us to quietly accept that just as boys will be boys, ABVP and NSUI too will be ABVP and NSUI.

Ultimately, what matters, however, is the safety of our spaces. One of the most disheartening outcomes is always the immediate reaction of administrative authorities, who seem quicker to police the gender-minority students than take action against the perpetrators. Whether it be barbed wire being put up on college walls or student protestors being detained before the men who invaded IPCW, the question of who will protect our safe spaces remains unanswered.

Read also: The Invasion of IPCW – A Student’s Account

Featured Image Credits: Anshika for DU Beat

Sanika Singh
[email protected]

The abrupt removal of five ad-hoc teachers from the Sociology Department at IP College has stirred new concerns about the college administration’s decision and the impact of this on both students and the faculty.

 On September 29, 2023, Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) released the list of candidates selected for the positions of assistant professors in the Sociology department. This announcement came as a surprise to both the department’s existing staff and students, as five ad-hoc teachers, with years of service at the institution, were unexpectedly displaced. The college had been conducting interviews to fill various vacancies in several departments for a while. Notably, none of the eight newly recruited professors were from the previous faculty.

The displaced faculty, who participated in the interviews, were shocked to learn that they had been replaced without any justification or prior indication. They expressed their dismay over the lack of support and understanding from the administration. One of the affected faculty members shared,

There were no words of comfort or support extended from the admin’s end. We are clueless and shattered.”

The displaced teachers had been dedicated to their roles, making significant contributions to the department’s success. They voiced their concerns regarding the fairness of the process, amidst claims of ideological differences being a reason for such sudden removals, one of the displaced ad-hoc professors emphasized that,

It is not Us vs. Them; we are not opposed to the newly hired teachers, but we are questioning the fairness of the process in that the contributions and labour of the teachers who had been working in the department for a number of years were not prioritised. We were replaced by those who had just received their master’s degrees and have little to no experience; how can they be better than us?”

Moreover, the professors demanded accountability from the selection committee and the college administration. They emphasized that this issue is not just about the fate of teachers but also about the well-being and educational experience of the students. The sudden change in faculty could disrupt the existing environment of class rooms and impact the students’ learning process.

One student from IPCW expressed,

They should have retained some of the old professors for the sake of students. Everything happened overnight. Our professors had created this department with love and dedication, and we were not prepared for this sudden change. The department was led by experts in their field, and the shock still lingers.”

Another student shared their initial experience with the new faculty, saying,

We had complete trust in our old professors’ teaching styles, and we were comfortable with them. Some of the new faculty lack prior experience, which has been a source of frustration for us as students. With exams approaching, we are concerned about the time it might take for the new faculty to adapt to our learning environment.”

During conversations, the displaced ad-hoc faculty mentioned their gratitude for the overwhelming support they received from their students and the larger academic community. However, they expressed doubts about the promise of getting position into other institutions, given the limited number of sociology departments in the university.

In conclusion, this incident at IPCW raises concerns about the legitimacy of decisions made by colleges and selection committees. Such decisions not only impact the professors who are displaced but also have far-reaching consequences on students’ education and the department’s reputation. The displaced faculty members hope that similar situations do not occur in the future.

We as teachers try to build the vision of students, we believe that with our experience they can also benefit, It takes time to form such bonds with students that we had already built. The message is simple, value the labour and contributions of those who have given their everything to build this field.” One of the displaced ad-hoc teachers from IPCW.


Image Credits – Google Images

DU Beat

To address the safety concerns transpiring recent incidents at all-women colleges, DU issued a notification to reconstitute a women’s safety committee to strengthen the security of female students and employees.

On 8 May 2023, Delhi University (DU) issued a notification to reconstitute a committee on women’s safety and security in light of the incidents threatening the safety of students in all-women colleges. The committee, consisting of six members, will be headed by university proctor, Dr. Rajni Abbi.

The competent authority of the university has re-constituted a committee on women safety and security to strengthen the safety and security of female students and employees of the university

–stated the notification issued by DU on May 8 2023.

The notification is issued to address the recent incidents in cultural fests raising concerns regarding the safety and security of female students and employees on campus. On 29 March 2023, male trespassers harassed and catcalled women during Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) annual fest, Shruti. A similar harassment incident was reported in Miranda College in October 2022 where several men scaled down the college walls and sexually harassed the female students attending the college’s Diwali fest. These incidents have also caused Gargi College’s annual fest, Reverie, to be cut short to only a one-day affair held on April 10, with limited participants and events.

The university felt the need to have a specific committee to look into the issues of female safety. The committee that was formed after these incidents created generalized guidelines. But it was not specific to the safety of girl students

–Dr. Rajni Abbi stated, in conversation with Press Trust of India (PTI).

Alongside Dr. Rajni Abbi as the Chairperson, the six-member committee will consist of Law Center II’s Prof. Vageshwari Deswal as the Member Secretary, joint proctor Prof. Geeta Sahare, Dr. Mallika Kumar from SRCC, Assistant Registrar Sh. Girish Kumar and Advocate Ms. Niyati Sharma as members.

Previously, on 17 April 2023, DU varsity issued an 17-point advisory notice to colleges and departments clearly stating the “responsibility for events shall lie with the college/department authorities” and the college will be responsible for any “untoward incident”.

Entry for events should be through pre-registration like on Google Forms with details of the event, that is, date, venue, and the expected number of participants, should be maintained and submitted to the police with a copy to other above-mentioned departments

–the advisory added.


Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Sri Sidhvi Dindi

[email protected]

On 15 May, a story covered by the Press Trust of India (PTI) revealed that teaching faculty from the University of Delhi wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Yogesh Singh in order to report the lapsing of Scheduled Tribe reserved teaching positions in some departments of Indraprastha College of Women. 

Delhi University professors have accused the college of “twisting the roster” in order to practically do away with ST teaching positions in the commerce and economics departments. In both the aforementioned departments, the positions have decreased from a singular vacancy in 2019 to none in 2023. 

As written in the letter, close to 10 teachers have expressed their concern over the issue and urged the University to take some action, 

It is a harsh reality of the current times where we see the various efforts done by administrators to oversee the category section in the context of recruitment blindly.

The Press Trust of India has claimed that their attempts to reach out to the administration as well as the principal, Poonam Kumaria have been unfruitful, due to the lack of response. Even the DU Beat’s request for a statement has been left unanswered. Reports in the past few years have pointed out DU’s failure to allot reserved teaching positions to SC/ST candidates, even though the University has had qualified and suitable candidates, a response that has been criticized before. Such discrepancies, however, have prevailed previously as well.

On 12 May, DU Beat itself covered an ongoing issue at Keshav Mahavidyalaya regarding teacher’s union protests following the alleged lack of adherence to reservation policy, in regard to teaching posts among other issues. Moreover, as recently as October 2022, the SC/ST/OBC Teacher’s Forum had expressed concern over the non-implementation of University guidelines when it came to reserving administrative and faculty vacancies in colleges across DU. The chairmen of the Forum, Dr Kailash Singh Yadav had said that while teachers were still given reserved spots at a later date, the same had never been done for the position of principal ever. 


Featured Image Source: collegedunia.com 

Read Also: DCW Seeks Report on IPCW from Police   

Reviewing the SC/ST Act 


Chaharika Uppal

[email protected]

Separate gates for entry and exit, restriction on entry of outsiders, hiring private security, increasing height of boundary walls – were a few among the measures suggested by Delhi University’s panel to augment security in colleges post the shameful events at IP college’s fest.

On 4th April, the University of Delhi constituted a 5-member committee to investigate the incursion onto the Indraprastha College for Women’s campus during the college’s annual fest. The committee has now prepared security guidelines for colleges to prevent such future mishaps after several meetings and consultations with the Delhi Police.

These guidelines have been issued in the wake of several recent incidents which have threatened the security of girls on college campuses. Low boundary walls, no concertina wires, common entry and exit gates, dearth in CCTV surveillance were certain infrastructural issues adding to the insecurity. Although the recent incidents have largely been reported at all-women’s colleges, these general guidelines are mandated to be followed diligently in all campuses.

The advisory by the DU Proctor Rajni Abbi, dated 13th April, mandates a proper Advance Security Liaison (ASL) meeting with all stakeholders i.e. fire, police, electricity, college/university security, college representative, event management company etc, before the commencement of any concert or event inviting outside students. No such event is to be organised without an NOC (No objection certificate) from the police.

“There should be a careful assessment of the capacity of the venue in relation to attendees expected. Information on the capacity of the various venues should be mapped and total number of participants allowed should be in accordance with the available space,” read the advisory.

Mandating such structural changes was the need of the hour considering the loop holes within the administration and the infrastructure. Implementation of these measures in a stringent and swift manner is of utmost importance considering that the fest season is still not over. Greater funding towards security is definitely something that was needed. Greater emphasis on implementation in all-girls colleges is even more important” – Priyanka Bhalla, a student from Lady Shri Ram College for Women in conversation with DU Beat

Among other measures were proper assessment of height of college walls, and installation of concertina wires if found to be low and scalable, installation of metal detectors, CCTV cameras at college and hostel gates. Pre-registration would be a pre-requisite for entry, submission of details like venue, date, time, crowd number beforehand to the police has been necessitated.

Read Also: ‘No event without Police NOC’: DU Releases New Guidelines for College Fests

Feature image credits: DU Beat

Rubani Sandhu

[email protected]

The police have identified eight more students since the sexual harassment incident transpired at a fest in Indraprastha College on 28 March.

Eight students have been identified through CCTV footage and analysis of their CDR locations during the Indraprastha College for Women’s (IPCW) annual fest “Shruti”. The Civil Lines police intends to question the students, who are all students at Delhi University. The police have also recorded the statement of a woman who was allegedly sexually harassed during the fest.

Students protested within the campus, a day after several men abused students aft scaling its outer walls. Students demanded accountability from the administration and Delhi Police for their failure to secure the event. They also demanded the resignation of the college Principal, Prof. Poonam Kumria. In order to get an explanation for the security failure during the event, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) sent a notice to the police and the college administration. It also demanded a report on the steps taken by April 3. 

“It has been over a week and we were promised the results of the committee. In the starting, there was a lot of momentum but we fear things are dying down. No definite action has been taken and we’re all hoping that more pressure will be put on the principal and she’ll give us answers. It’s a very slow and tiring process, the students are mentally exhausted but we won’t give up till we get her to take accountability.”

                                                                                                 –An anonymous student from Indraprastha College, in conversation with DU Beat

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) stated in the report that the Delhi Police had recorded the statements of only two survivors under section 164 CrPC despite two weeks since the passage of the incident. The commission, in its interim report to IPCW, said that the Delhi Police arrested five students on the day of the incident. However, they were later released on the same day. The unknown men harassed the young women inside the campus and hurled abuses at them. However, the police said that no student came forth to report such allegations.

It is disappointing that no action has been taken against any official of Delhi Police or IP College over the security lapses. Girls are sexually harassed in their own college fests and the authorities are not doing enough to prevent these incidents, bring the guilty to task and to support the survivors. We have given our report on the matter and I expect strong action.” – Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of DCW, in conversation with The Hindu

The Commission conducted an investigation and summoned officials and interrogated victims of the incident.

In our interaction with the survivors, the Commission learnt that four persons were injured and a girl even sustained a fracture due to this harrowing incident. Also, in the past, similar crimes have occurred in other colleges in Delhi University including Miranda House and Gargi College,” – the DCW’s statement.

The commission stated that there was a lack of coordination between the police and the college to ensure an effective security strategy.

The Delhi Police told the Commission that IP College grounds cannot accommodate more than 2,000 persons and this was not informed by the college before organising the event, in which they had invited thousands of persons,” – DCW

The commission also noted that the Delhi Police did not obtain the incident’s CCTV tape until April 6, 2023. Following the commission’s involvement, they gathered the film from the college, but they later learned that it was insufficient.

Feature Image Credits: Anjali, AISA DU Secretary on Twitter

Read Also: In Recent Developments of IPCW, DCW Seeks Reports from Police

Sri Sidhvi Dindi

[email protected]

In its report, the Delhi Commission for Women has exposed various inefficiencies on part of the authorities and the police, and has asked for accountability.  

Following the reports of sexual harassment of women during the annual fest- ‘Shruti’ of Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW), the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) took suo moto cognizance of the situation. Its chairperson, Swati Maliwal on Tuesday asked the police, Delhi University and the colleges concerned to submit an Action Taken Report by 18th April. According to the official notice, college authorities and the police have to submit a set of guidelines and mechanisms before that panel that will help in preventing such incidents in future.

On March 28, a group of men barged into the Indraprastha College for Women by scaling the boundary walls, leading to a stampede. Several women were allegedly harassed and injured in the chaos. The incident led to protests by hundreds of students, who demanded strict action against the accused persons and the resignation of Principal Poonam Kumria.

It is disappointing that no action has been taken against any official of Delhi Police or IP College over the security lapses. Girls are sexually harassed in their own college fests and the authorities are not doing enough to prevent these incidents.” – Swati Maliwal

The Delhi Commission for Women also issued interim recommendations to Indraprastha College for Women, DU and Delhi Police. It found several lapses on the part of the authorities and the police in conducting the investigation. 

Its inquiry showed that the Delhi Police officials did not act in time to collect CCTV footage of the incident and have not made any arrests.

It’s unfortunate that despite the passage of ten days, police officials had not secured CCTV footage of the incident from college authorities which is crucial in identifying the perpetrators of the crime. Commission again summoned the officials on April 8, wherein they informed that CCTV footage has been collected from the college now, but the footage is incomplete, and they have contacted the college to provide them the complete footage.” – Delhi Commission for Women

It also added that the college had sought police security for a crowd of 8,000 plus people on their premises but did not seek permission for the event. The Commission further stated that “the Delhi University and Delhi Police should design a coordinated strategy for ensuring adequate security before any fest is organised in colleges” as it had noticed that there was a “complete lack of coordination between the two authorities on the matter, as no police permission was obtained by IP College for the event”.

Additionally, DCW suggested that the local SHO and college principal meet, ideally one week before the program, to go through the security measures in place to ensure the safety of the students. The commission discovered that, as of April 6, accusations of sexual harassment had not yet been transmitted to IPCW’s Internal Complaints Committee and that the ICC should have representation from students and an external member from a reputable NGO working on women’s rights.

Read Also: The Invasion of IPCW: A Student’s Account

Featured Image Credits: The Indian Express

Samra Iqbal 

[email protected]

On 1st April 2023, DU Beat spoke with Dr. Abha Dev Habib, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Miranda House and a women’s movement activist, to discuss the condemnable incidents that took place in Indraprastha College for Women on 28th and 29th March 2023, during their Annual Fest ‘Shruti’, where some men scaled the walls of the college and harassed women inside the college premises. 


Question: Thank you so much ma’am for joining us. So I would like to begin by asking your views or how you see the recent developments that unfolded in Indraprastha College for Women. 


Dr. Habib: Thank you. Yes, I find it very unfortunate. One, of course, the whole assault where male students and other students are trying to barge in, and then there was that was one incident that also happened in Miranda in October 2022, during the Diwali Mela. But what I find most unfortunate today is that when the students are protesting and women students are protesting, they feel that their space has been occupied, that they were molested, and that the administration and the police have not taken enough steps. Instead of extending support, instead of allowing that protest to happen, allowing that outrage to happen, the administration of the college and the police is diverting their energy in trying to stop this protest, in harassing women, students, young women, and they’re being told that the college will inform their parents and that they cannot protest like this. The police have been continuously detaining the protesters. I find that extremely objectionable because if women are not even allowed to protest against this violence, then I do not know. I think in some sense the administration and the police have sided with those who have molested people, who have outraged the whole thing. I mean, the people have been molested, and the administration is siding with them and is standing against the decent. 


Question: So, as you mentioned there is apathy on part of the administration. We have seen an irony in the deployment of police forces when it comes to detaining people and a meager deployment or almost no deployment of forces when it comes to providing protection to the people. So how do you see this trend? 


Dr. Habib: This trend is very disturbing. And one thing is the short-sightedness of the administration in saying that there will not be too many people wanting to come into the college. These fests are happening after a gap of two years COVID period when they were not happening at all. And there is hyperactivity in all colleges. All societies want to function, all societies want to have fests. And when the college is throwing open its gate to all, there will be sort of a huge rush. So there may be a short-sightedness or miscalculation on part of the administration and trying to get the police on time or to have arrangements on time. Now, however, what is happening after students protested is that they were molested and the police were called to detain them. I find that unacceptable and unfortunate and this should not have happened. This cannot happen. While you can pardon the administration for the first part, of course, we make mistakes and there was a miscalculation, I cannot pardon the administration for the second. What these protests are doing, apart from letting focus on the way the space was occupied and creating an awareness of gender sensitization, these protests are actually calling out to all student community to say that women’s colleges cannot be closed down just because the society is such that women will be molested or something. You cannot force women to stay back home. You cannot close down doors on them and allow everybody to have a good day outside. And what we are saying is that if we have too many police or we start making these festivals as closed festivals, that is not an answer. The answer lies in gender sensitization. It lies in the awareness of the people. And these protests are actually a call for that order. They are calling out to people to have that sensitivity. And the unfortunate part is that the administration is seeing these protests as against them. It is seeing these protests as something against the college and is detaining students. So this is not something that is acceptable or which can be forgiven. 


Question: So ma’am, we have seen this phenomenon is not new and such instances have happened in Miranda House and previously in Gargi also. So why do you think such colleges, and women’s colleges in particular, are targeted by such violence? And how safe are these places for women when we compare them to the other co-ed colleges? Because it’s a common perception that women’s colleges are comparatively safer.


Dr. Habib: Yeah, I will start the other way around. These colleges have served the nation. These are very safe places where women really discover themselves. Many feel empowered, they move forward. And Miranda House, IPCW, LSR, Kamla Nehru, Gargi, all these colleges have contributed immensely. If we look at Miranda House, the number of women scientists it contributes is immense. It is only in recent times that these situations of outrage have occurred. I was at Miranda House first as an Ad-hoc teacher from 2001-05, and then as a permanent. So in 23 years of service, it was only during the Diwali Mela of 2022 that I found this kind of masculine behaviour and entering the college and disturbing the classes. They came and then also tried to occupy as if they were trying to occupy Miranda. That I had never seen earlier. Yes, I had seen crowds during fests when we call some big singer or a star to the college. Yes, people want to come in and they want to enjoy. And there are cases of molestation and all even then, but that is not limited to women colleges. It will happen anywhere. And in Miranda House, in IPCW, the fact that women are outraged, feeling outraged, that they’re on the streets, is because of their awareness. And in fact, that also in some sense, gives you an idea of how empowered women feel in these colleges, and therefore they are voicing it in the form of protest. So I see women’s colleges as very, very safe places. 


Yes, but I want to say that what is happening in colleges today has to be seen as a larger thing, where we find masculine behaviour on the rise, where we find a mob mentality on the rise, where we find the whole questioning yourself, what is your domain, what is somebody’s else domain? And do you have the right to do this? We are losing those questions. There is in some sense a return to these issues, gender and all. Yes, they are in the curriculum, we have gender studies and all of that. But are we in our daily lives practicing them? An unfortunate part is that the central government and the governments are failing. In Bilkis Banu’s case, eleven rapists will be freed. Is that the message? So far as a woman activist, I find that to be a problematic thing. In Katwa, when an eight-year-old Muslim girl is molested and raped and it was so gruesome we couldn’t even read through the newspaper, we see that the whole case is given a Hindu-Muslim angle and there is a protest by the Hindu right-wingers there. And this has to be isolated from every Hindu. I’m not talking about every Hindu. The same thing has happened in Bilkis Banu. So there is this thing of that mob. In a mob, nobody gets caught, and nobody gets punished. And this is what we have experienced in last so many cases, whether it was about women, whether it was about murders. And I think that is a problem. It is because of how the government sees finally. 


There are all kinds of tendencies in society, but it is because of the fear of law and order that most people work in a particular manner. That fear has to remain. If the justice delivery system, if all of that collapses, then this mob will be on the rise and today you are seeing that in women’s colleges; this is true in all-women colleges. Because see, I mean education, if you look at the Constitution, the forefathers saw education as the only possible way of transforming society. And therefore education was treated as a public good. Women colleges are questioning the social order, they are breaking free of the conditioning and creating something new. Sometimes societies feel very endangered about it. And right now the right-wing Hindutva element is finding it difficult to digest centres like JNU, which have brought social transformation, which talks about equity and has given space to students coming from marginalized sections. So you will see a systematic attack on JNU. In DU also, women’s institutions are seen as left, whereas they are not just left, they are questioning and they are creating a new order, which actually is the task of the education sector. And therefore also I think that there is an additional attack. 


The attack on Gargi and what all happened there, again reading newspapers, it was very difficult to visualize that people were raising such slogans or doing something like this or masturbating and so on and so forth, or at Miranda House and now in IPCW. And therefore I feel that the protests which are going on right now by the women students, these protests are very important because if women will not protest this, then the only order which can prevail and which will help the right-wing forces is to shut down women in their houses. And this is not acceptable to us. For example, the whole movement of Pinjira Tod was a very important movement. It questioned the timings of women’s hostels vis-a-vis giving the same arguments of security and all. Whereas we have experienced that the spaces will become safer and safer if women will inhabit that, if women will be out on the street till late. But women will be there when the lighting will be proper and so on and so forth. So I think we have to look at these incidents in the context of what is happening in the country today. 


Question: As you said there is a need to create awareness and all. So, with the advent of the New Education Policy, there has been an introduction of subjects like value addition courses (VAC) and skill enhancement courses (SEC) and all of that. But we see there is a conscious exclusion of gender sensitivity or even sex education in these courses. So how important do you think are these courses in light of what is happening currently in IPCW? 

Dr. Habib: I hope many first-year students will get to hear this interview. I see SEC, VAC as very, very diluted courses and which have neither added to the skill of the students nor added value. I do not know what value you can gain in class and also the courses started only midway. The whole idea or the advertisement of skill enhancement courses is that they will add to the skills which are marketable. So, therefore, I do not know whether these are the proper places for gender studies. But gender studies is a very important part of humanities and social science courses. And I think in depth there are many topics which give space for discussions like this in literature also. But there should be a continuous discussion. Of course, there could have been a paper on gender issues in value-added courses. What I’m saying is that, yes, there are many places where we can study them, and debate them. And you know that each college has a Women Development Cell (WDC) which also organizes a large number of seminars and conferences where they call people to deliberate on important issues. It is not only that when we sit in the seminars or what we study in our course transforms us–that is, of course, a very, very important part which transforms–but how the machinery of the country is functioning, that becomes a very important thing. Because finally, you have to understand that, what is the number of people coming to universities. It is still hovering around 25% of the Gross Enrollment Ratio. So how many are reaching the universities? How many are reaching higher education? One has to understand that, to understand the transformation which the universities alone can bring. They are very important centres but it is also in the way the government will conduct itself. If the government will conduct itself, the justice delivery system will do okay. The learning is also in all of that. So I think it is the whole system which we have to see. And yes, more courses can be added. I agree with its addition in value addition courses. But I don’t see that as the only way forward. 


Question: So, before we end this, is there anything else that you would like to tell us about the whole situation?

Dr. Habib: No, I just want to, through this interview, express my solidarity with the protesting students. In fact, WDC units of all colleges should come together to think about how to roll out gender-sensitizing programmes across the university. Not only students but teachers and karam-charis and administration will have to respond to this crisis. Because this is not going to be with just women colleges. It will spread to all. And even in co-ed colleges, I do not see that this will not happen there. Either you open your gates, don’t try to close them, and let everybody come in. Are we ready to have 20,000? And can we prevent things like stampedes or any other tragedy which may just happen anywhere? So I think we all need to put together our minds on how to take gender-sensitizing within the campus and outside. I think the WDC of all the colleges should come together to have outreach programmes on this also. But my absolute solidarity with the protesting young women and I think it is for us to protest. The solution does not lie in closing down the gates of women’s colleges or having all programs only limited to the population inside. The whole idea is to bring a social transformation so that these gates can remain open, and that women can walk on the streets fearlessly. And in this, I think the government needs to hear what people are saying. And the government needs to be more sensitive. If rapists will walk free, there is no way of preventing all of this.

Read Also: Interview with Dr. Maya John

Interview by Samra Iqbal

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With the attention being drawn to the public protests, a lot is being said and done inside the IPCW campus. Following these protests on the 28th and 29th of March, the IPCW administration along with the members of the student body held a closed-door meeting in the IQAC room of the college. Read along as DU Beat investigates the contents of this meeting and the spat between the IPCW administration and its Student Body through the verbatim of one of their students.

On 28th March, Monday, IPCW college’s fest was invaded by unidentified men leading to chaos. On 29th March, Tuesday, IPCW college saw protests including students and members from the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Students Association (AISA). These protests were met with heavy police deployment and detainment – something that was missing on the day students were clamouring to get away from the men harassing them.

On Friday, March 31, following the events on the 28th and 29th, and the brutal detainment of students by Delhi Police, the agitated students of Indraprastha College for Women raised the twin demands of a public apology and a resignation letter from the principal, Poonam Kumria.

Amidst these protests, a student of IPCW, who wishes to remain anonymous, told DU Beat all about the spat between the student body and the college administration. They said, “because it was a holiday, on the 30th, occasion of Ram Navami, there was a meeting in the IQAC room of the college with the committee comprising professors, the principal, and the student’s union.” Within the closed doors, the Principal claimed that it was no one’s fault. However, based on her alleged political affiliations and saffron strokes on the logos and decorations, along with inviting Navika Kumar for the inaugural ceremony, her position was questionable.

“After reviewing the CCTV footage, it seemed as if the mob had been planted.” According to the source, there were three signs: first, a particular man raised his camera before the stampede began, which implied he knew it was going to happen. Second, a day before the fest, on the 27th, there was a group of men from a political party who were not allowed to enter because they didn’t register, and their reply was “dekh lunga tumhe kal” (I will see to you tomorrow). Third, someone had done something to the camera because it blacked out. “There was a particular point where we wanted to see what had happened and someone had, I don’t know, hit the camera, and there was a major lapse because of it”, said the IPCW student.

“The moment you try to speak to her about what happened on the night, down on the morning of the 28th, she gets a little hyper-aggressive. And we didn’t want to do that to her. Because you understand we are a group of 19-20-year-old women sitting among you know, 40-50-year-old people.” The meeting continued, and after a while, the union along with the principal exited the room to issue a statement. 

Now the principal gave a statement that was very contradictory to what was discussed in the room. She was like, in spite of the stampede, it was the Student Union’s decision to go forward with the fest. Even on the day of the first protest, she said it was the student union’s mismanagement that the stampede occurred. In the meeting, when it was happening behind closed doors, she blamed it on the Delhi Police. And outside, because she knows people are recording it, she blamed it on the Student’s Union. She knows if she blames it on the Delhi Police outside, it will backfire on her.”

The principal claimed that she had written letters to the police, the ambulance, and the fire brigade to provide security. However, an IPS officer while answering the students amidst the protest, revealed that they had never received any such letters from the college demanding security. 

Authorities denied receiving letters from the college demanding security.

By evening, there was a lot of movement of the police, both inside and outside the campus since Section 144 was imposed right outside the campus. The principal refused to come out of the room because of all the sloganeering. Soon enough, “the principal comes out of the room with a force of about 40-50 police officers assuring her safety. There were water tankers and barricades outside to ensure her exit. Not a single police officer was present on the 28th, but for this single individual, there was such a big force.”

The students, around 500 to 800 in number, had now formed a human chain right outside the main gate to prevent the principal from exiting the premises and to hold her accountable for everything that had transpired over the past few days. Between the blame game, and the police helping the principal to escape, “another stampede occurred…the two girls right in front of me fell and got injured. Naturally, the police also fell. Now to clear the way, some of these officers knocked some of the girls in the rib with their elbows, and others kicked the girls to get them out of the way. The Delhi Police, just a while ago in the college had remarked, “You can be safe with us, we’ll protect you…”” revealed the source.

A human chain formed in an attempt to stop the principal from leaving.

The principal sanctioned a 10-day leave for the entire Student’s Union right after they demanded she release an official statement on the account of the student body pressuring the union. “The union asked her to do this and to this she replies- It’s okay, tum log underground chale jaao aur 10 din ka leave lelo (you people go underground and take a leave of 10 days), I’ll handle everything…We felt she was doing this because the moment we left for our homes, she could put the entire blame on the union” stated the IPCW student. “They kept saying kuch nahi hua hai kuch nahi hua (nothing has happened) to console us. It all happened at the gates of IP college, which is ALSO a part of it…how can they say kuch nahi hua hai?” 

Upon being asked to comment and elaborate on the saffron hues that one can find IPCW’s walls painted in, the student continued, “The walls are being painted by the MCD, they want to paint the history, flora, and fauna of IP on these walls. Inside the campus though, there are logos and everything that she (the principal) has saffronised, and I don’t know why has she done that. There was a logo-making competition a few months ago, and I remember no one submitted this particular logo that ended up being used. And when everything got into the news, she changed the logo back to the older one, and never even informed the Union to switch to the older logo taaki voh fass jaayein (so that they get trapped)…”

The issue is why are we being recorded all the time? Every time there is a protest, we are being recorded by the staff, and there are even drones present. She can spend on an entire drone when the stampede is going on or when she’s being rescued from the college, but she could not apply for security which is free of cost when it comes from Delhi Police. Why?”


AISA, SFI, etc… we don’t wanna be a part of all this. We want to be a part of it as IPCW students and protest that way. AISA becomes a part of everything. Going inside the campus is a bigger fight. Imagine principal ke aankhon ke saamne unke students jinko voh family bolti hain crush hue hain amidst the stampede (Imagine the students she calls family were crushed in front of her eyes in the stampede), and she didn’t even look back to see…”

With the IPCW administration still choosing to stay silent on the matter, this student elaborated furthermore, “The Administrative Officer, Mr. Dinesh Sundriyal. He laughed off everything. There was a stampede going on, and we could see him far off, the man who denied us security, he was standing there talking, making conversations, and laughing. (On Friday), we got very angry and when we tried calling him out, he just laughed it out again. I don’t know…men being entitled all the time, they don’t take us seriously.”

Students continue to fight to reclaim their safe spaces and seek accountability from the authorities.

Poonam Kumria, the principal of IPCW has essentially passed the entire blame on the Delhi police and the Student’s Union despite both entities claiming that they were never asked to provide security or take a decision regarding the continuity of the fest, respectively. What Delhi Police has been active in, is dragging peaceful protesters into buses, kicking away students and indulging in other acts of police brutality. Measures are being taken, but the direction remains unclear, and with accountability still not finding its place in the matter, IPCW students continue to fight the administration. 

Read Also: Delhi Police Detains Student Protestors at IPCW.

Image Credits: Anshika for DU Beat, @manya3gaur (Instagram Handle)