The Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad organised a protest at the Aryabhatta College on 21st June, in order to express concerns regarding student safety and student welfare in the campus. The college administration received condemnation from the protestors for apathy and indifference towards student issues.

On the 21st of June, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) organised a protest at Aryabhatta College in the South Campus of the University of Delhi. The protest was reportedly organised in order to condemn the inability of the college administration to ensure student safety in and around the college campus. On 18th June, a 19-year-old student named Nikhil Chauhan was allegedly stabbed to death outside the Aryabhatta College. The protestors blamed administrative negligence and poor security conditions around the college campus for the murder.

The protest, which was scheduled at 10:30, finally began at 11:30 and lasted for about 2 hours. The protestors reportedly bolted the college gates, not allowing students and faculty members to enter the campus. The protestors raised ‘vande mataram’ slogans and ‘bharat mata ki jai’ chants while asserting their demands.

The members of the ABVP made a list of demands that included – recruiting more female security guards, ensuring the availability of sanitary pad vending machines, renovating washrooms across the college campus etc. While some of the demands were specific and aimed at student welfare, other demands such as – “proper and strict action should be taken against incapable and abusive admin staff” were vague and incomprehensible. The protestors were mostly men and very few women were present at the site.

A student getting murdered right outside our college is a big deal. This could have been prevented. No action was taken by the admin staff even though they were aware of the fight between the victim and the accused that happened a week before the murder. The administration has been apathetic to student concerns. Students have to struggle for days even to solve minor issues. Our sports ground has been out of use for the past four months. We have made a list of demands addressing these concerns that we intend to place before the principal.” – Tarun Yadav, ABVP President for Aryabhatta College

The students, after staging the protest outside the college, marched inside the campus, raising slogans and vocalising their demands. The members of the ABVP expressed that they intend to place their demands in a meeting with the principal. There was tussle between the members of the admin and the protestors that resulted in chaos. Four representatives of the ABVP finally met with the principal and a meeting was held in order to discuss the concerns raised by the protestors. After the meeting, the members informed the protestors that almost all their demands had been readily accepted by the principal.

There was considerable police presence at the protest site. On being asked about how they feel about the deployment of police forces at the college, an ABVP representative stated that the police was present to help them carry out the protest without interference.

The police forces are not here to suppress our protest. They are here to ensure our security and to prevent any unwanted interference from other parties.” – Tarun Yadav, ABVP President for Aryabhatta College

Read also – https://dubeat.com/2023/06/20/a-delhi-university-student-stabbed-to-death-outside-of-aryabhatta-college/

Featured Image Credits – Pratik for DuBeat

Tulip Banerjee

[email protected]

For the past month, the non-teaching staff of Keshav Mahavidyalaya have been protesting in a sit-in dharna for demands such as pending promotions and timely payment of dues. The administration has allegedly not relented to any requests as of yet. 

In an exclusive conversation with DU Beat, a member of the Karamchari Union of Keshav Mahavidyalaya alleged that promotions of the college’s non-teaching staff have been halted since 2009. Instead, they accused, the appointment of retired individuals has been extended to fill up the posts that were supposed to be taken up via promotions. This has led to serious concerns about financial security and workers’ rights, given that 30-32 members of the Keshav Mahavidyalaya Non-Teaching Staff Union have been protesting in the college since April 12, 2023.

Jo jahan pe hai wo vahin hai. Job kisiliye karta hai aadmi? Isiliye ki jisse uski koi growth ho, wo zindagi mein kuch achieve kar paye… 17-26 saal ho gaye hain logon ko kaam karte hue. Mehangai badh rahi hai, par us hisaab se aapki salary nahi increase ho rahi. Aadmi apni zaruratein nahi puri kar paata, apne parivaar ke kharche nahi utha pata.

(Everyone is stuck where they are. Why does someone work at a job? So that they can achieve something in life and for growth… It’s been 17–26 years since we have been working. Prices have been rising, but our salaries have not been increasing in proportion. One is not able to fulfil their needs and fend for their family.)

– Anonymous member of Keshav Mahavidyalaya Non-Teaching Staff Union

Even though the number of students being admitted to the college has increased over the years, our sources claimed that the number of posts for non-teaching staff has not increased in proportion to the increasing workload. Reportedly, posts such as lab assistant, library assistant, gardener, etc. are vacant and awaiting promotions.

Additionally, our sources alleged that the college has not been adhering to the reservation policy; posts reserved for SC, ST, and OBC categories have allegedly been allotted to unreserved candidates. In another instance, they accused the college of allotting examination duties to “near and dear ones” instead of the existing college staff.

Our sources retold a particular instance of pending promotions which arose in the case of the post of Senior Assistant in the Administration department. According to the post-based promotion roster available on the college website, there are two posts in the cadre. However, our sources informed us that the same was reduced to 1 post in subsequent rosters. A plea filed in 2011 under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, once again revealed that there were two posts present of Senior Assistant in the college.

Alleging “a blame game on Dilli sarkar (Delhi government)”, they reported that inquiries with the administration were met with the response that Delhi government has not sanctioned or approved those posts and that the college lacks adequate funding. Letters and mails to the administration have allegedly not yielded much positive response either.

Admin se jo ek-do baar baat hui hai, tab unhone humein pressurize karne ki neeti apnai hai. Ki aap apne kaam pe laut jao. Darane-dhamkane ka bhi unka raha hai.

(In the one or two times that we have talked to the administration, they have adopted the strategy of trying to pressurize us. That we should return to work. They have tried to intimidate and threaten us.)

– Anonymous member of Keshav Mahavidyalaya Non-Teaching Staff Union

While headlines of fund-crunch in the 12 DU colleges that come under the purview of the Delhi government have surfaced before, our source reported that, as per their knowledge, the teaching staff of the college hasn’t faced any issue with promotion or dues. If the issue is reportedly limited only to the non-teaching staff, they raised questions about the validity of the fund shortage reasoning.

The protesting workers and non-teaching staff have pleaded for immediate redressal of their “long-overdue demands” and inquiry into all cases of alleged maladministration.

Read also: DU Non-Teaching Staff Protest Demands Pending Promotions

Featured Image Credits: Sourabh for DU Beat

Sanika Singh

[email protected] 

 Several student organizations and students of Delhi University have come out to express solidarity with the ongoing wrestlers’ protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Many of the protesting students have been detained by Delhi Police.

On May 3, 2023, members of student organisations like the All India Students’ Association (AISA), the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), and other students of Delhi University staged a protest in front of the Arts Faculty, demanding the arrest of WFI President and BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment and intimidation. The rally, “Students for Wrestlers,” was organised in support of the ongoing wrestler’s sit-in, and wrestler Bajrang Punia had been invited to address students.

30 protestors were detained later by Delhi Police, who said that prior permission had not been given for the protest.

“They were asked to disperse from there and maintain the peace and tranquillity in the area. When they did not leave, they were peacefully removed from there and around 30 of them have been detained.” – Sagar Singh Kalsi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP North)

The Students’ Federation of India (SFI), in its press release, alleged police brutality against the protesting students.

“Before the students could even gather at Arts Faculty, before they could even start sloganeering – the police came with heavy deployment and started to brutally detain students. The guards of Delhi University administration were particularly brutal.”

– read SFI’s press release

In its press release, the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation Delhi (AIDSO) also claimed manhandling and called for an All India Solidarity Day on May 4th, 2023, demanding the expulsion of WFI Chief from the federation.

Top Indian wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia have been staging a sit-in since April 23rd, 2023, at Jantar Mantar, accusing Federation officers of financial impropriety and mental harassment. They have also called for criminal action against WFI President Singh for the alleged sexual harassment of several female athletes.

“Students of DU went on a march in support of the protesting female wrestlers. The harasser is roaming free but instead of arresting him, the police is catching those who are coming out in support of the wrestlers. The agitating female wrestlers condemn this.”

– Sakshi Malik, Indian wrestler and Olympic bronze medalist commented in a tweet in Hindi

Read also: Student Protesters at Arts Faculty Brutally Detained by Delhi Police

Featured Image Credits: @sfidelhi on Instagram

Bhavya Nayak
[email protected]


The annual festival of Hindu College, ‘Mecca’, has allegedly been put in jeopardy by an administration order to reduce the 3-day, star-studded event to just 1. Students of the college have reportedly gathered outside the college gates to stage a protest against the same.

An important cultural event in the college calendar, this year’s ‘Mecca’ was scheduled to be held on the 26th, 27th, and 28th of April, culminating in a megastar evening on the final day with Sunidhi Chauhan. Agreements had been made, and Coke Studio had signed up for sponsorship of about Rs. 34 lakhs. However, with the event just a week away, on April 20, the organising committee was informed by the college principal that the event should be wrapped up in a single day, i.e., April 28.

This order by the administration was reportedly in part due to the recent advisory issued by the University for  college fests requiring NOC from the police or being limited to the students of the college. Students who have been working hard for months for this event have come out to protest against this arbitrary decision. The organising committee has also opposed this decision, saying that MOUs have been signed and all the arrangements have been made. The college administration has also allegedly made the distasteful demand that Sunidhi Chauhan be dressed in a saree; otherwise, she won’t be allowed to perform on stage, as a gimmick to stop the event from taking place.

“The admin has shown a similar attitude towards every event. We had a North-East Fest in our college which had an open entry, but the principal denied that just one day before the event. They’ve always opposed Mecca from the first day, but if they’re letting it happen, why cancel at the last moment? Coke Studio can easily file a case against the OC head of Mecca for breaking the MOUs.” – Devesh Arya, a third-year student at Hindu College

According to sources, various protesters allegedly came to the college on the night of the 20th, breaking the locks of the gates and protesting for Mecca to be held according to the original itinerary of 3 days. The next morning, they reportedly didn’t let the professors into the college as a sign of protest. Later in the day, they shifted their protest to the principal’s office. While some students alleged that protesting students were detained by the police and lathi charged, others have claimed otherwise. On the same day, i.e., the 21st of April, the principal issued a notice stating that they “were anguished to the state that they were left with no choice but to seek police assistance”.

“Students have crowded outside the auditorium since last night; they’ve spread the mattresses and are continuously protesting. Since then, the principal has also made many attempts to leave the premises, but every time was stopped by protesting students.” – An eyewitness from Hindu College

Many people in the organizing committee claimed having their own money pitched in, but now that there are limitations on the people allowed to attend the event, the students fear that the sponsors will back out and also tarnish the name of the college.

“We don’t have any additional demand; we just want to continue with the same old format that Mecca used to happen. This is all our demand, and as long as it’s not fulfilled, we will continue to protest. A meeting with the principal happened, but no response was received.” – Prabal Mishra, a student of Hindu College and Junior Executive Head in PR

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

Featured Image Credits: Devesh Arya for DU Beat

Samra Iqbal
[email protected]



On Monday, April 10, the teachers and various teacher organisations of Delhi University staged a protest during an Executive Council meeting, demanding the absorption of ad-hoc and temporary teachers along with the formation of governing bodies in Delhi government-funded DU colleges.

The members of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) protested outside the vice chancellor’s office while the Executive Council meeting was underway. They were joined by the teachers’ wing of the Aam Adami Party, the Academics for Action and Development Delhi Teachers’ Association (AADTA). The demonstration included two members of the Executive Council itself, Seema Das and Rajpal Singh Pawar, who are also associated with AADTA. The primary issue raised was that of the displacement of ad-hoc teachers, leading to dire financial conditions and job insecurity.

 “The ousting of long-serving teachers is inhumane and promotes social insecurity in the working of the ad-hoc teaching community, which is not in the interest of the academic environment, teachers, and the community.”

                                            —AK Bhagi, Delhi University Teachers’ Association President

They demanded the absorption of displaced teachers and additionally called for the formation of governing bodies in colleges funded by the Delhi government, claiming that the “arbitrary displacements” had been a result of the absence of governing bodies.

“DU has been reneging on its promise of no displacement and warned that this is leading to the harassment of thousands of ad-hoc and temporary teachers working in the colleges of the University.”

                         —Seema Das, Executive Council Member and Member of AADTA

Displacement of ad-hoc teachers has been a pressing issue in the varsity, as data gathered by some University teachers suggests that nearly 76% of ad-hoc teachers have been displaced. Of the 615 ad-hoc teachers who were interviewed for permanent positions in various colleges, it is estimated that nearly 465 have been displaced as of April 8. Many of them have been teaching for several years, some even decades and nearing retirement.

“You cannot displace them in just two minutes. What will happen to them? Where will they go? Many of these teachers are above 40 and some are even nearing retirement. They provided their services despite knowing that they were not going to receive any facilities that the permanent staff do. We have been abandoned by the University and left in a lurch.”

                   — An anonymous ad-hoc teacher who was displaced recently

Some teachers alleged lack of transparency in the interview process, saying that they were not selected despite having experience and academic publications.

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Read also: Chronological Account of the DUTA Ad-Hoc Crisis

Sanika Singh
[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]

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)

In light of the recent condemnable events surrounding IPCW college, DU Beat’s print editor, Anwesh Banerjee, spoke to Dr. Maya John, a professor of Jesus and Mary College and an alma mater of Delhi University about the need for women to reclaim spaces within college campuses and the collective efforts necessary to shape university spaces into more safe, equitable and democratic ones.


Anwesh: We have with us Dr. Maya John, assistant professor of history at Jesus and Mary College. She was also the first female president of St. Stephens College student union during her tenure there as a student from 2003-2006. We are here to discuss the issues that have been transpiring lately at the IPCW campus, but before we jump into that, we know that you have played a seminal role in the history of fighting for spaces for women. It’s been almost twenty years since you fought that fight, stood on your claims, and twenty years later, as a professor in the same university space, how do you react to the current situation?

Dr. John: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my insights and also sum up the disappointment that stems from the experiences that are repeating themselves in a space like Delhi University. In response to your question, I would say that, of course, the Delhi University campuses have proven to be very unsafe spaces for women students, karamcharis and teachers. The reality is that, it’s not just an unsafe space in terms sexual harassment being a pervasive problem, but it’s also a space that is highly unequal, therefore it’s a very contentious space. One’s own experience, as you trace it back to my student days – twenty years back, this was precisely the nature of the university. It was this prestigious space that was admitting women students, researchers, and teachers; but remained a space wherein structural inequality was embedded. Premier colleges like Stephens, Hindu, etc. in the early 2000s did not have adequate residential facilities for women students. Most who came from outside Delhi struggled in off-campus accommodations, and the women out-station students were often victims of sexual harassment at the hands of landlords, experienced rampant street harassment when commuting, etc. Women students were pushed out of campuses after 4 or 5 in the evening, leading to restricted involvement of women in co-curriculars and other contributions.

We fought this battle for equality in the university space, equality in something so fundamental as residential accommodations. So back in the 2000s we launched a campaign for more women’s hostels and safe neighborhoods. In present times it has taken newer forms, because it still remains an unaddressed issue. Even though the University of Delhi and colleges within have opened up hostels over the last decade, there aren’t enough, plus they are too expensive, especially the new hostels. It is worrying to see how their admin functions in a very ‘disciplinarian’ undemocratic way, instituting rules that don’t reflect the times, the demands and needs of the students. Thirdly, to demonstrate the existence of a systemic gender bias, everytime we have festivals like Holi being celebrated on campus, it’s always women staying in hostels that are held hostage – women can’t step out, are locked in, while men staying in hostels, especially post graduate ones take out these filthy rallies outside women’s hostels for hours. Most of the time these practices are within the knowledge of the proctor’s office of DU, yet no actions are taken to stop these activities. When I was staying in a post-grad women’s hostel, we were writing representations one week before Holi regarding not wanting to be held hostage and we demanded a stoppage on the rallies by male students – to no effect. The university authorities brushed it aside claiming it to be a tradition and saying they would be accompanied by police. That was even more ridiculous, to have police accompany a rally of men who are drunk and are taking over the street and making public movement difficult. This is the kind of tradition one has seen. I would also connect a lot of what we are seeing in IP college – the incident on 28th March and the subsequent crackdown on students who are asking for accountability, raising a question for why did such a security lapse happen, and I just want to explain this event in terms of a longer history of a lot of institutional apathy, tolerance for sexual harassment, and complicity of institutions in this culture of sexual harassment.

Interestingly, IP College, around 2008 was besieged by a similar incident of women students of the college being attacked by groups of men, being groped and molested. This incident was at the hands of men who had come to appear in neighboring government schools for the Delhi Police constabulary exam. Not only were the IP women a large number of victims that day. Since men had appeared for the exam across different areas, there must have been in different parts of the city similar horrible experiences for women who were molested by mobs of men who couldn’t of course be easily identified. IP college of course saw a huge protest. The then vice chancellor was questioned in terms of why his team did not know that an exam of this sort would be happening in many areas in the campus, why was there no increase in security, why the DU admin was not registering a formal complaint, etc. Questions were also asked of the police and higher authorities as to why was the police not willing to cancel the exam? These men were to become policemen themselves and how could the authorities let them get away. It was very important to send out a public message by cancelling the exam because of the way the candidates behaved. Look at the extent of institutional apathy, there was a crackdown by the principal back then asking students not to protest and the Delhi police never agreed to cancel the exam. The issue went right up to the home ministry of the Government of India. That’s the level to which sexual harassment in these institutions is brushed under the carpet and normalized. It becomes the mainstream narrative that – victims are exaggerating it, it wasn’t that bad. Even right now in IP, the college administration is asking for a proof and is denying that mass sexual harassment actually happened, whereas students actually have so much to share on what exactly went down that night.  Because of this larger institutional apathy that goes right up to the top brass, it’s not surprising that the university and the local police stations continue to turn a blind eye to these experiences, and make them seem as if they are never that big in scale, and that incidents are actually being exaggerated by women who have lost their minds.

The second thing I wanted to bring in today in terms of experiences under institutional apathy which breeds a lot of sexism and unhealthy culture through inequality of access. Let us turn to how Delhi University treats scores of women students who are so vulnerable; i.e., the women students who come for a few handful classes on Sundays and gazetted holidays under the School of Open Learning (SOL) of Delhi University. The way these women are treated is ridiculous. Everyone from officials to guards at SOL treat these women as if they shouldn’t be there on campus, treat them like dirt. It’s also about how university spaces are considered as somebody’s “Raj”, some people treat it as if it’s their private property and not a public space that needs to be shared, that needs to be safe, and that needs to be egalitarian. The way these women of SOL are treated like cattle, shoved into classrooms – 200/300 of them in one class, then shoved out of campuses after their few annual classes. This is supported by high-handed measures like notices being put up in SOL centres about how women shouldn’t comb their hair, and take selfies in corridors on campus. These institutional actions perpetuate the ideas of the patriarchal gaze, and can actually translate so easily int someone misbehaving with these women, especially because they are treated as if they don’t belong here in DU.

DU very often has not made itself a safe space, egalitarian space for so many people, including women. The problem is going to keep coming up, there is always going to be an effort to deny it, brush it under the carpet. That is why students, women’s activists have to protest. It is ridiculous to see the way Delhi police is being mobilized to crush democratic students’ protests so easily. But where are they, and why are they not mobilized as a preemptive measure to situations like these in college fests. So obviously, this is a very selective use of policing and it reflects more on the insensitivity of institutions and administrators. Therefore it’s something we need to keep fighting.

Anwesh: I am so glad you brought up the 2008 incident, that’s a part of the research I have been reading up on, because this was not an isolated event. Just last year we had the horrific incident at Miranda house, and that wasn’t a lesson enough. You were talking about the police force and there was this picture a photojournalist from our team took at arts faculty the day the protest was. It felt as if we were in some sort of a riot looking at the amount of security personnel deployed in the arts faculty.  People could not move, there was a traffic jam. This also brings me to the idea of institutional apathy that was so beautifully elaborated upon.

Right now, Shambhavi who is a student from IPCW is under a show cause notice, since they were one of the most vocal students when it came to asking for accountability. That also brings to light this history that exists in this public university which is supposed to stand for the liberal arts and everything that’s democratic and egalitarian. Whenever you ask for this accountability there’s a certain kind of repression and suppression that happens as far as your voice is concerned. There are two students that have currently been suspended from giving examinations because of their attempt to screen the BBC documentary, Shambhavi is under a show cause notice. It’s also very interesting that this event happened 5 years ago as well, after the 2017 incident at Ramjas where the lives of so many students and professors went into danger because of their attempt to claim their academic space and the right to have an academic discussion. From what I know, you were also denied admission in a Masters programme at St Stephens, which is why you had to go to Miranda House to pursue your degree. As someone who has also undergone this fight, how do you deal with this even after so many years and how do students make sense of asking for their basic rights, or seek accountability and also for students around them who come from faraway places to this university to fight for their basic rights? They don’t find it in themselves to ask these questions because this is the kind of repression you are met with when you ask these questions. So how do you reconcile this entire situation with this kind of fear?

Dr. John: See, being an activist right from my student days, I have learnt it the hard way. One way is that you tackle people’s hesitation and you also tackle the concrete victimization through of course being very strategic in the way you plan the next level of your agitation. It is crucial to take as many students and participants along so you don’t get isolated. Next, it also means tapping networks, preparing the struggle in a way in which you are also putting pressure on the authorities from multiple dimensions. If the students of one particular institution are pitched against their administration, that’s not enough. The college admin needs to be made to feel pressurized from other areas. It would be interesting in this case to see how other groups – student groups, women’s organisations, women’s activists, alumni – how they get galvanized and put pressure on not just the concerned college administration in the centre of the storm, but generally even on everyone else who is accountable for an untoward incident. Everyone from DU’s big wigs, to the college principal, to the Delhi Commission for Women, to the Delhi Police needs to be held accountable and asked as to why was this incident allowed to happen. Putting pressure from different forces and dimensions becomes important.

Secondly, you have to fight, because if you don’t fight, you don’t get anything. If you stand up, you keep the collective mobilization going, you’d be able to challenge the apathy and change the general ambience that people in the administration work with, i.e., the yeh toh chalta hai approach. So, as long as you fight back and you keep that going, and you connect and build the next phase of the movement in a strategic way, you do push for accountability. Whoever’s in powerful offices feels the pressure. Am sure the principal is currently having her own share of sleepless nights. My point is, we have to remember that it’s the continuous efforts that end in important change. If you don’t fight, nothing will change. If you fight, bring people together, then of course it is one important step in democratizing the way universities function. Because remember it is still a university space, it cannot get as hostile as a workplace or the world outside. So if you can bring them to their knees, which is a relatively more cushioned space – the university, then it’s an important battle the women students are winning.

Anwesh: Absolutely. There were two final questions I wanted to conclude the discussion with. The first being, because you are also a professor of history I wanted to ask, whenever these debates about university spaces come in there is also a lot of literature and writing that is produced in terms of how DU, especially the north campus is constructed as a space. It’s not a closed campus, like you have in private universities. There are students literally staying in very residential parts of Vijay Nagar or Kamala Nagar. Then in the centre of these spaces, you have these spread out college campuses. Almost 80% students don’t have access to the hostel spaces, only the top scorers can avail these. Others have to resort to taking flats or pgs in nearby areas, which has turned the entire accommodation business into such a thriving one, who exploit these students. I myself have so many female friends and gender minority friends who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by landlords, and have been in very vulnerable positions. They are staying far away from their families, who they can’t even inform about these situations. Do you think this sort of architectural structuring of the university space also plays into this narrative for the space not being safe enough for the university students? If yes, then is there any solution to finding a way around this?

Dr. John: One major change that is needed is for the university to create more of its own accommodation. When I say the university needs to provide for as many needy and outstation students, it also has to be an affordable accommodation. As I had mentioned a few minutes back, even the hostels made over last 10-12 years are very expensive and the facilities provided are very questionable. I believe all of us know about the Rajiv Gandhi undergraduate women’s hostel and all problems there which triggered protests by the women residents. So, it’s an important struggle that pushes the university to provide for safe and affordable accommodation with proper facilities. I feel that making Delhi University a closed campus is something we will not be able to immediately achieve, and even if it became a closed campus, it doesn’t guarantee that within DU classrooms, within college buildings, lawns, etc. sexual harassment won’t happen and that the incidents will not be continuously brushed under the carpet. Let’s face it, a closed campus is not such an important solution. What is important is that we equalize the space. It means we provide residential accommodation, more of it, so that students, especially women are not left in these vulnerable conditions and paying through their nose just to be able to come and study here.

Anwesh: Ya, the beauty of the university is that it is such an open campus. That is why when I read such arguments it really annoys me so much because that is the beauty of this campus. Okay, just the last question before we end this interview. Like you said, there are so many authorities and institutions, whenever such incidents happen, women and gender minorities are asked to prove and this entire culture of “yeh toh chalta hai” and probably “aap toh zaada bol rahe ho”, it’s something not to be worried about. This entire culture has placed women and other minorities at this position wherein they have to prove their oppression. Yesterday, I was out a little late in the night and I was coming back, I saw the North Campus claim the night march – something that has been going on for a while now and so what do you think is the role of these groups like Dastak, which are coming together, motivating women to go out and spend entire night reading, talking to each other, walking the campus and claiming the night. What other ways are there to show that these stories are real stories and the institutions need to believe us when we say this has happened to us, this violence is real, which we face on a daily basis?

Dr. John:  These are interesting and important initiatives, these marches etc. But as I said, a lot of bad experiences of sexual harassment and being denied democratic access to university spaces don’t happen necessarily only in the night. Our fighting for safer, more democratic spaces in DU requires us to build many other kinds of struggles, movements and initiatives. I would suggest addressing one important cause such as the state of lakhs of women students languishing like second class citizens in DU SOL. Fighting that battle, getting them more classes and access to the university facilities, and basically getting so many more women on campus would make a big difference to the nature of the campus. I definitely think there are many structural things that need to change which will make the university space truly more inclusive and truly more sensitive. Of course, while night marches and awareness building are important, it’s also about how democratized is the space in the morning hours, how many more women have quality access to the university and thirdly the way our hostel facilities function – their in-timing and out-timing need to be rationalized. The culture of locking up women at 9 is really not the solution because again having lonely roads outside campus after 9 is not something that helps or makes the space necessarily safe. So even the way in which existing university rules function, when a woman can enter or leave hostel are all initiatives that we need to fight for.

Anwesh: Thank you so much ma’am. Thank you so much for raising the issue of the SOL as well, because that is something we don’t really talk a lot about in the mainstream as much as we do about other issues, and it’s not as burning an issue as claiming spaces and seeking visibility is. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview on such a short notice. We genuinely hope that people do realize that the IPCW struggle is not an isolated struggle; it’s a part of a larger history of fighting for and reclaiming spaces in this University.

On April 3, 2023, the students of Gargi College, led by SFI, organised a protest to demand the restriction-free organisation of their annual college fest, Reverie, along with standing in solidarity with protesting IPCW students.

On Monday, April 3 2023, a rumour that the Gargi College’s administration’s planned to cancel its annual fest, Reverie, was met with protests led by SFI Gargi. This event followed the stampede and cases of harassment that took place at the annual fest of Indraprastha College for Women on March 28, 2023.

The fest was tentatively scheduled for April 10–12, 2023. Such rumours particularly caught wind when, on March 31, 2023, “Reverie Reveal” did not go as planned, as the college’s Student Council failed to disclose the theme for the upcoming fest as they were expected to. The protestors assembled in front of the admin office for hours. However, nobody from the admin office came to address them, instead asking two students to enter the office but leave their phones behind – something they refused to comply with.

The protestors questioned the administration’s move of imposing restrictions on a women’s college fest because of what transpired at IPCW, rather than increasing security as necessary. They questioned the “highly regressive” idea of asking students to leave early in a metropolitan city like Delhi, simply because they are women. They demanded the right to organise a college fest without the imposition of such unreasonable restrictions, just like other co-ed colleges of the University.

However, it was revealed that rather than the fest being cancelled, additional guidelines and restrictions had been put in place by the administration to allegedly curb crowding and the chances of mishaps. These included wrapping up the event by 5 PM, removing the element of a star night or concert, and limiting the fest to society competitions and events. A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared that the student council were informed of these changes on the evening of 30th March, Thursday.

Our original itinerary had a band performance, stand-up comedy, and Qawwali night till 7-8 in the evening. But on the 31st they told us that it will be till 5, with no band, no stand-up comedian, only sufi night, because apparently that would not attract boys. Basically, nothing that can generate mass crowd because apparently coronavirus is spreading – only after 5 PM – and because of the IPCW incident. These were the two reasons they gave us.” – an anonymous student

In opposition to these restrictions as well as in solidarity with protesting IPCW students, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Gargi College, decided to lead a protest demanding “a proper fest without restrictions while ensuring safety of the students,” as said in an SFI press release dated April 3, 2023. The protest began around 12:30 PM with a handful of students in the Arts Quad area of the college, but over time allegedly grew to amass a crowd of over 500.

SFI Gargi led a protest on 3 April, 2023 in solidarity with the students of IPCW and against the Gargi administration restricting the students by cancelling Reverie’23. We were joined by a huge mass of students as well as the college societies. We’ll continue to fight for the rights of the students inside and outside our college campus.” – Aahana, SFI South Area President and Anurakti, SFI College Secretary in a joint statement

A meeting was held with the members of the Student Council, heads of various societies, unions, etc., and other students, where the Student Council of Gargi College allegedly stepped down from the organising committee as the event was not going as they had planned. Several societies have also reportedly decided to boycott the fest unless it is organised as per the original itinerary.

This edition of Reverie would be the first to take place after the unfortunate incidents of harassment and abuse that took place in the last edition of the fest, organised in February 2020. A continuation of the protest on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, seems to be planned until student demands are met. SFI’s press release additionally mentions a memorandum that will be submitted on the same day in this regard.

Read also: Overcrowding and Harassment at Reverie’20, Gargi College

Feature Image credits: Devangi for DU Beat

Sanika Singh
[email protected]

Following the detainment of student protestors against the harassment of women students at IPCW on Wednesday 29th March, Delhi Police has further detained numerous individuals during SFI and AISA protests at Arts Faculty on Friday, 31st March.

On Friday, 31st March 2023, student protestors at Arts Faculty in North Campus were brutally detained by Delhi Police and dragged towards buses to transport them to the police station. The protestors included individual students along with members of the Student’s Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Students Association (AISA).

The SFI and AISA attempted to stage a peaceful protest outside Indraprastha College for Women gates. However, due to heavy police deployment at the IPCW campus, the protest was shifted to Arts Faculty. The “Azadi March” from Miranda House to the Arts Faculty soon invited police crackdown. The police have not only detained several student protestors but, allegedly, also innocent bystanders and media personnel. SFI and AISA have alleged that the activists have been ‘manhandled’ and ‘harassed’ by the police.

I took out my phone and showed them my media ID but one of the officers didn’t listen and continued dragging me towards their bus,” – Bharish, a DU Beat photographer covering the protest.

A release by AISA DU dated 31st March, 2023 states, “We call for immediate termination of Satender Yadav, the ACP Civil Lines. He has ordered a brutal crackdown on AISA’s Azadi March and has himself manhandled Anjali, AISA DU Secretary.”

SFI and AISA have been calling for protests ever since the Indraprastha College for Women’s fest was marred by unknown men. On 28th March 2023, Indraprastha College for Women hosted its annual fest, during which several drunk men scaled the college walls and harassed women students. The miscreants wrote and chanted vulgar and obnoxious messages and created an unsafe space for the fest-goers. There was alleged inaction from the administration or police to control the chaos. Since then, the principal has also failed to address the matter. 

The student organisations have demanded that Delhi Police and the IPCW administration take accountability for allowing the situation to take place and not providing adequate punishment to the unknown men behind the situation. They have also demanded to know the reasoning behind Delhi Police letting the perpetrators behind a similar situation at Miranda get away despite escorting them out of Miranda House at the time. 

Today’s protest at the Arts Faculty follows a similar scene observed on Wednesday, 29th March at the IPCW Campus where student protestors were detained at Burari Police Station. 

This is a very sad state of affairs which is happening from last few months. We are seeing how administration with the help of police has been dealing with the students who have been peacefully protesting against the events that are happening in the university campus.” – Samaa, Co-convener at SFI DU. 

Allegedly, the classroom windows of IPCW have been covered with sheets to ignore the protests happening outside. Individuals present at today’s protest also allege that the walls of IPCW have also been painted saffron.  Students, along with the support of SFI and AISA have been demanding answers from the administration for the past few days, staging protests in an attempt to receive an answer from the authorities. These protests have so far been met with inaction from the University of Delhi and brutal action from Delhi Police.

Read Also: Delhi Police Detains Student Protestors at IPCW

Feature Image Credits:

Bhavya Nayak

[email protected]