Pinjra tod protest


Saturday, 21st September, saw a series of protests concerning the Jadavpur University unrest in West Bengal. On one hand, All India Students’ Association (AISA), Pinjra Tod, and Students’ Federation of India (SFI) protested against the actions of Babul Supriyo and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) supporters at the Jadavpur University. On the other hand, ABVP protested against left terror and condemned the heckling of Supriyo.

On Saturday, 21st September 2019, two protests broke out in the Faculty of Arts, North Campus of the Delhi University (DU). The first protest was organised by Pinjra Tod, AISA, SFI along with other left supporters, condemning the actions of the ABVP supporters and Babul Supriyo at Jadavpur University. In response, a counter-protest was held by members of the ABVP, calling for an end to “Left Terror” and “Red Terror” across the country, condemning the heckling of Supriyo at Jadavpur University.

The left-leaning parties and Pinjra Tod arrived at the Faculty of Arts first. The protest, planned for 12 p.m, began at 12:15 p.m. because the police force present on the venue impeded it. After reconciliation with the police force, the left began their protest surrounded by barricades with slogans like, “ABVP ki gundagardi, nahi chalegi! (Hooliganism by ABVP would not be accepted!)” and “ladenge tumse kadam kadam pe!  (We will fight against injustice every step of the way!)Outside these barricades, ABVP supporters began their own protest, condemning and to stop leftist and red terrorism, and violence, while chanting, “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko! (We need to kill off the traitors!)

Following this, the Akshit Dahiya and Shivangi Kharwal, the President and Joint Secretary of Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) respectively, addressed the crowd. Thereafter, ABVP proceeded to move closer to the leftist protest and burnt effigies with “Left Terror” and “Red Terror” written on them. When the effigy burning did not faze the leftist parties, the ABVP supporters went closer to barricades and shouted slogans like, “Bharat mata ki Jai! (Long live Mother India!)” and “Left Unity Muradabad! (Go down Left Unity!)” This resulted in the leftist parties and Pinjra Tod to turn to the barricades and chant, “Azadi!”

Sidharth Yadav, Delhi State Secretary of the ABVP, told DU Beat, “The incident is shameful! Does the freedom of expression allow anyone to pull [a] union minister by his hair? Tear a guest’s shirt? Manhandle a woman? Is what left did in Jadhavpur University not mob lynching?  It’s high time we stop our selective outrage and expose such people. The left only believes in violence and this is what they have done in Kerala, bengal, JNU; wherever they are in power. We won’t tolerate this in DU. DU stand with Jadhavpur University and the space of debate and dissent won’t end here.”

While Kawalpreet Kaur, President of AISA, commented, “From JU to DU, wherever there is a strong students’ voice against BJP’s anti-people and anti-student policies, BJP government unleashes an all out attack on campus democracy.” She also added that DU students stood up when ABVP had vandalised a seminar in Ramjas College, and will also stand up against ABVP’s hooliganism across the country.

We contacted members of the SFI and Pinjra Tod for detailed responses, but they were unable to provide a comment on the same.

Feature Image Credits: Gauri Ramchandani for DU Beat

Shreya Juyal

[email protected]


After releasing a charter of demands regarding the hostel regulations and receiving a dissatisfying response from the administration, LSR united with Pinjra Tod on 5th November to demonstrate a protest against curfews, gendered treatment, absence of OBC reservations, and more.

At 5 PM on 3rd November 2018, the students of Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College, along with supporters from Pinjra Tod, collected outside the main-gate of LSR to engage in a protest. The protest’s objective was to get the administration to come out of the college gates and to engage with them on the demands listed in the charter released by Pinjra Tod and LSR.

Some of the demands from the charter stem from a practice of sexist and hypocritical foundations, students stated. The University Grants’ Commission’s regulations prohibit discriminatory rules citing safety considerations for women. For example, the curfew was 10 PM before 3rd November 2018, and it was mandatory for the first-year residents to acquire the signature of either of the two wardens in a ‘day-slip’, if they wished to move out of college at any time of the day before 7:30 PM. Staying out at night was permissible for only four nights a month, and even then the tedious procedure ensured the restrictions on the women’s mobility.

The accounts of the residents present a picture of gendered discrimination and judgements, which also includes practices ignoring the PWD residents’ convenience in mobilisation in the hostel premises. On the condition of anonymity, a resident shared that once when another LSR hostel resident was moving out after 7:30 PM, she was asked the following by the authority at the hostel- “Kiska bistar garam karne jaa rahi ho?” Several other residents revealed the hypocrisy in citing safety in maintaining curfews for adult women, while at the same time ‘gating out’, i.e. suspending the residents for breaking alleged rules, at any given time. A student was once forced to spend the night at the railway station when her train reached late enough for her to miss the 10 PM deadline.

When demonstrations were announced, the administration accepted a few demands from the charter, to be exercised from the beginning of the second semester, i.e. 1st January 2019, which are as follows:

  1. The curfew timings were pushed to 10:30 PM.
  2. The concept of ‘only four nights out’ was amended to the attendance rule of 60% per month.
  3. The system of issuing day slips stands abolished, and identity cards will be issued.
  4. Instead of the rule of making mandatory two local guardians (married), there will be the provision of an emergency contact number.
  5. Leaves will be issued without the signatures of any local guardian or parents.
  6. Appropriate changes will be made in the Hostel Handbook.


The Charter of Demands
The Charter of Demands

There has been no abolition of the curfew, or adherence to the reservation guidelines for the OBC community, and many other significant demands remain unaddressed. Pinjra Tod gathered in lieu of the said events, and the students shouted slogans like ‘Kuchh salaakhein tooti hain, poora pinjra baaki hai!’ (‘Some grates have broken, the entire cage remains!’), ‘Pitrisatta ka khol de pol, pinjra tod, pinjra tod!’ (‘Demolish the patriarchy, break the cage, break the cage!’), etc. to remind the college administration of the hypocrisy used to justify the regulations in hostel.

Over 50 women joined the demonstration, and the momentum increased such that an ultimatum was declared by the protesters, according to which the principal was asked to engage with them outside the college gates by 6:30 PM. The principal, Dr. Suman Sharma, did not respond to the cries and demands of the demonstrators. The vice-principal and a few members of the college administration stepped out of the gates, and attempted to deter the protest through a dialogue, but the demonstrators shouted ‘shame’ and refused the reported tokenistic gestures.

The Hostel’s Union was not present at the demonstration, nor was any statement of solidarity released from its end. Allegedly, some members of the union approached the administration in confidence and stated that they had been feeling ‘pressurised and attacked’ by the methods of the protest. After 8 PM on the 5th, the union released a statement defending its non-participation and non-solidarity for the protest, and also addressed other concerns in it.

At 6:16 PM, the LSR Students’ Union representatives, Katyani and Drishti, announced that they were going to engage with the administration to make them aware of the demonstrators’ decision to break open the college gates, if they failed to address them. No fruition occurred of the expected nature for the students as the administration proposed permitting only the current students of LSR to assemble in the college auditorium for a discussion on the demands. The demonstrators refused, and at 6:48 PM the demonstration took to the road. The one-way was blocked by the demonstration and the traffic assimilated for approximately thirty minutes before being diverted by the police officials. Women alleged groping and perverse remarks directed at them by the men gathered outside LSR.

Almost a quarter past seven, the demonstrators marched towards the intersection at the traffic signal, when their demands remained unheard by the administration. Around 8:30 PM, the students were let into the premises and the principal agreed to address them. Due to the apprehension of being intimidated by the administration, many demonstrators sat outside the gate and continued raising the slogans against the regulations.

The official account of Pinjra Tod remains that the principal left within a quick while of her appearance before the student community. They stated: “LSR principal barely came out for two minutes and left the protest site. All of campus is militarised with police men & plain clothed police women, they beat up women mercilessly. They say they will implement OBC reservation once there are more seats!” Members of the SU are reported to have been pelted at with stones, and scratched as they extended their explicit support to the cause. At 10:30 PM, the demonstrators broke through the hostel gates and continue to chant revolutionary slogans, singing songs to claim their liberty by defying the curfew for the day.


The Demonstration on 5th November
The Demonstration on 5th November

At 10:30 am on 6th November, about 30 faculty members entered the hostel and the hostel-residents’ account revealed that they were not allowed to move outside and assembling in the dining hall was made compulsory. The students gathered outside the hostel again.

Day-scholars and residents later assembled in the hostel gardens, where the faculty members addressed the students. In the dialogue, the hostel union’s President, Aarushi, stated that they would issue a solidarity statement if those students, who wish for the curfew to continue and had previously approached them personally, did not explicitly voice their perspective at the time.

A student who had been accused of intimidating the union, stated that the demands were being suggested as reductive when there was much more than the curfew.

Professors stated that they would listen to the demands point by point, and respond accordingly. When the issue of WiFi was brought up, the faculty members agreed with the demand and stated that they had already complained regarding it, and the inadequacy of the WiFi was not solely for the hostel residents. They were working upon it. The students demanded a deadline for the course of action.

The protests have paused for now and the new plan of action is as follows:

  1. A new, more detailed charter of demands will be formed by 7th November as the administration has accepted certain demands already and they have termed the main demands ‘vague’.
  2. The deadline for sending a written response back to the demonstrators is Sunday for the administration.
  3. The principal has to address the students on Monday in the auditorium. If she fails to, or if the students remain dissatisfied, then the protests will resume from Monday onwards.
  4. Attendance was not adhered to yesterday, and the same will happen on Monday.

The hostel warden has suggested that she will forward the letter to the principal herself, and Katyani from the Students’ Union stated that the students’ body of LSR will be present to back up the demands.


Image Credits: Anushree Joshi for DU Beat

Anushree Joshi

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Despite several marches and protests, the curfew rules in several girls hostels in the University haven’t changed. Now, the organisation Pinjratod, which has been on the forefront of this movement, has new plans.

Two days ago, Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology saw a wave of uprising as the women students refused to enter the hostel till their curfew time was raised. Yesterday, students from Punjab University in Patiala too carried on their hunger strike against curfew timings, with one of the girls even suffering from a case of dengue. Meanwhile, all this week and today, the walls of North Campus are being enveloped by rectangular posters sporting reddish hues, posters calling out students for responding to the call of change echoing all over the nation, for joining Pinjratod’s all night indefinite protest.

Pinjratod has also been news in Delhi University with their bold approach in making PGs and hostels less regressive for women students. It started from one cause but now stands for many other injustices that students in the University of Delhi face. Thankfully, with recent protests erupting in different nooks and corners of the country on these very same issues, Pinjratod’s support is only increasing. Often, the case has been that boys hostels are found to have more flexible timings or curfew as compared to the hostels of their female counterparts, which is seen as unequal and unjustified by many. The dissatisfaction behind this can clearly be seen in examples mentioned above. However, this time, it seems like an all out demand against the authority as the indefinite protest is aimed at demanding a “complete removal of curfew for all girls hostels”.

A member of Pinjratod on the condition of anonymity states in conversation with the DU Beat correspondent, “The freedom of women students in university spaces has constantly been curtailed through the imposition of arbitrary curfews by hostels, under the pretext of “safety.” Pinjratod has been persistently raising demands with the DU authorities against the discriminatory curfews and the time has come we remind them again. A memorandum has been submitted to the Vice Chancellor, with the various demands regarding hostel allocation, curfew timings and fee structure, etc. As always, there has been no action taken by the authorities. It is about time we rise to the call of the muffled voices of the women students across colleges and we appeal to all women to join us for the indefinite protest that is to be held on Monday. This fight for liberation shall be maintained. Our oppression shall not be trivialised and this blatant sexism in the name of caution by our detainers shall not be normalised.”

Being promoted with the posters reading “DU against curfew”, the protest is set to start from 4 pm on the 8th of October. There are other allied demands such as need-based allocation of hostel seats (instead of merit) and strict implementation of SC, ST, OBC and PwD reservations in all women’s hostels. With many negotiations, aid by the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) and scores of protests, the University hasn’t really nodded their heads to Pinjratod’s demands in the past. So, would this week’s effort by Pinjratod succeed in breaking the shackles of the University’s unequal hostel rules or would it again lead to inaction and further delays on the part of the authorities? That, only time will tell.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Shaurya Singh Thapa
[email protected]

Pinjra Tod is an autonomous student-run collective effort aiming to ensure a secure and non-gender discriminatory University for all women students. They claim to be battling the university which they believe reproduces patriarchal and casteist structures by constantly seeking to regulate and control women students’ lives, mobility and sexuality through a wide range of mechanisms. On 23rd September 2016, Pinjra Tod organized a ‘Night March’ in Vijay Nagar, North Campus which aimed on reclaiming their right on the streets which they are forbidden to visit beyond their oppressive hostel and PG curfews. Pinjra Tod’s mission stated, “this time we are out on the streets to sit on a vigil against sexual harassment and rent extortion in PG’s, to ask for hostels that should be built for us, for that room that is ours no matter what time we return, for the collective spirit that threatens this patriarchal university so much”.

The march took place through the many lanes of Delhi University’s North Campus on that night in a peaceful and organized manner, after which the group collectively gathered at the Vijay Nagar tea point to begin their night vigil. As they sat on the vigil, the Pinjra Tod members put up a play which represented their daily struggles as woman in the university which was lauded by all the viewers at the tea point. All was said to be going well, when Satender Awana (ex-DUSU President from ABVP) arrived at Vijay Nagar along with his companions and placed themselves amongst the peaceful night vigil by Pinjra Tod. Their arrival followed a range of smirking, laughing and derogatory remarks by ABVP towards the protestors, it was also noted that these men took videos of protestors on their mobile phones with lewd hand gestures in display of their male entitlement over the female protestors. At the end of the play, the men from ABVP started chanting slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai!’ along with other provocative gestures towards the women which included flashing a ‘hundred rupee note’ at a protestor. On being challenged, the man caught hold of the Pinjra Tod activist’s wrists and kept tightening his grip, while attempting to corner her with his friends. This episode created a commotion at the protest area, which eventually cleared out as the men from ABVP left the spot to the activists of Pinjra Tod. This incident created an uproar amongst the female students of Delhi University towards the discriminatory nature of ABVP’s treatment towards Pinjra Tod’s vigil. In retaliation, Pinjra Tod is organizing another protest demonstration against ABVP on 20th October in the Faculty of Arts.

We were in conversation with a Pinjra Tod member who was present that night, she shared with us how the chanting of ‘Hum Bharat ki Mata nahi banenge’ by Pinjra Tod in response to ABVP was in order to instigate a feeling within these men about how women want ‘azaadi’ from these patriarchal structures of conformity which prescribes an ‘ideal woman’. She elaborated upon how the usage of lewd words by the men was an attempt towards character assassination of female students of Delhi University, and questioned their claim to be ‘student parties’ if they cannot treat the students within this university with due respect. The character assassination of women staying out ‘at night’ was an indication towards how these women are of low moral code and therefore do not have a place in their ‘savarna’ politics which is a bend towards casteism in student politics within DU. She also spoke of how the night vigil brought together all the activists of Pinjra Tod into a sense of solidarity towards reclaiming the spaces within the university which they are entitled to be in, as students.

Joyee Bhattacharya

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