A probe by the committee revealed gross lapses in the overall security at the fest and that the college had underestimated the number of participants in the fest on the campus.
On 6th February 2020, the third day of the college’s annual cultural fest ‘Reverie’, many students of Gargi college in the South Campus of the Delhi University alleged that a mob of outsiders gate-crashed into the campus and manhandled and sexually harassed the students.
A fact-finding committee conducting an independent probe into the alleged molestation of female students of Delhi University’s Gargi College here on February 6 has so far recorded and examined the statements of over 600 witnesses, varsity sources said on Wednesday.
The Delhi High Court had on Monday issued notices on a petition seeking a CBI probe into the molestation incidents.
The probe, after a general body meeting with the students, recommended that the college’s staff be sensitised to gender issues after many students complained about the lax attitudes of the administration when the misdemeanours had first been reported.
“The committee found that the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) is grossly biased and compromised and that a new ICC be formed as per UGC requirements by February-end,” the college’s student body said in a statement. The Committee also said that a second, more conclusive report would be constructed to address the event in its entirety. A decision has also been taken to form a new ICC as per the requirements of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The committee is to be formed by the end of February.
Moreover, A second-year student told IANS that aggrieved students will meet with Delhi Commission for Women on Friday on the matter.
“It would be great if the findings of the committee help in improving the attitude of the college administration towards students’ complaints and issues, and a general attitude of the university towards student and womens’ issues,” says a first year student from the college. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Geetanjali Khandelwal is leading the investigation in the said case. With the arrest of two more persons by Delhi Police on Tuesday, the total arrests in the case have gone up to 17.
The accused were arrested under Sections 452, 354 and 509 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, police said on Tuesday. Of them, 10 have been granted bail by Delhi’s Saket court.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) called upon the students of Delhi University (DU) to “rise against the incident in Gargi College” and presents demands to ensure safety in college fests.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) along with the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) called a meeting at the Arts Faculty, North Campus on 11th February to discuss the incident at Gargi College involving cases of molestation and outsiders trespassing into the College premises during Reverie 2020, the annual cultural fest.
At 12:30 p.m. a small crowd of about 60 gathered at the gate of the Delhi University Arts Faculty armed with ABVP flags and placards calling out the administration of Gargi College. Representatives of the ABVP spoke on the incident saying that they had received no explanation from the Students’ Union of Gargi College or the Principal of Gargi College. They claimed that the security present was only adequate for about 3,000 people while in reality there were about 10,000 people present at the Fest. They said that following the incident, the College had been unable to take proper measures or file an FIR and that students had been crying and writing letters of complaint, not knowing who to address them to. They were also critical of the Dean of Student Welfare and Proctor of Delhi University, calling them out for “sitting in their A.C. offices” and not being present or taking any action on the incident. The also brought up the matter of the delay in declaration of results for the semester examination and said the Dean of Student Welfare and Proctor should vacate their seats if they are unable to carry out their responsibilities.
They also appeared to take a dig at the other student organisations, pointing out that the people who “protest all year round” were absent and only talk about the issue on social media. They called this breach of security a, “Question mark on the future of students in the county” and said it was not enough to protest there, and that each and every student should raise their voices in their own colleges to raise awareness and urge the colleges to beef up security with the fest season just around the corner. The ABVP reiterated their role as a student union and said they resolved to protect their sisters around Delhi University. They also alleged that some had tried to give the incident a communal twist and that it was simply an attempt to stir controversy. The ABVP was also critical of the organizers for allowing the fest to become a “business” and “selling tickets to outsiders”. Addressing the police personnel present at the meeting, they urged the Delhi Police to look into the matter with care and to take steps to ensure security at the upcoming college fests to avoid such an incident, saying that “nothing more shameful could have happened”.
In a circular asking “Who is answerable? Who is accountable? Who is responsible?” and at the meeting, they stated the following demands:
Take strict action against the culprits accused in the Gargi fest molestation case.
Accountability must be fixed for fest security in colleges.
Entry in college fests should be by valid ID card only.
Students’ Union, College administration and Police must collectively ensure the security in college fests.
The corruption by nexus of Union representatives and College administration must be exposed.
University must issue guidelines to ensure the security of students without attacking the autonomy of organisers.
Speaking to journalists at the meeting, an ABVP representative also talked about the ABVP’s ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying that the ABVP had protested against Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as Narendra Modi in recent times “regarding issues of scholarships” and other matters and said that the students were their first priority.
Amid chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, “Vande Mataram” and “Gargi College Admin, down down”, the protest was concluded at around 2:00 p.m. and the crowd gradually dispersed.
On the other hand, the students of Gargi College continue to protest against their administration, and have distanced themselves from other parties incentivising their issues. They neither support any political party and nor asked for any interference on their matters.
Feature Image Credits: Tashi Dorjoy Sherpa for DU Beat.
Reverie’20, the annual cultural fest of Gargi College wasn’t a good experience for students who attended the star night with Jubin Nautiyal. Numerous accounts of man-handling and abuse were reported.
Trigger Warning: This article contains accounts of sexual harassment and molestation.
Reverie, the annual cultural fest of Gargi College took place from 4th February to 6th February 2020. Despite having a strict entry procedure, it witnessed various incidents of molestation and harassment.
While the first two days were relatively peaceful, the third day turned out to be more horrendous. Girls were groped, abused, and ogled at during Jubin Nautiyal’s concert on 6th February. It became impossible to even move out for safety in the huge crowd that had gathered. Gargi College, as it is known for its ethics and morals, ironically became the center of physical and verbal assault of many women.
While the entry for boys was strictly through passes and supposed to close after 4:30 pm, the gates remained open till late, and there was no checking for identification either. The security system proved to be highly incompetent as middle aged men jumped over boundaries to enter the campus. Due to overcrowding, there was no checking for passes or IDs at the gates. An anonymous source reports that the men did not break the gates initially. An admin official had consciously opened the gates to let a car enter. Once the gates were opened, a pool of men, including many non college students, flooded in. The influx continued till late. Approximately more than 5,000 individuals had accumulated on the Campus. They sat on the stalls of vendors and actively damaged the property of the college.
One of the students shared, “They broke down the gate, climbed over the walls and rammed their scooties into the crowd. The men were walking around drunk and shirtless.” Another girl said, “It was my first ever fest and I was touched inappropriately multiple times. A man just unzipped himself and kept on laughing at me. It is frightening and hard for me to accept what I witnessed in a supposedly safe girls college”.
Video Credits: Anonymous
Video Caption: The entry witnessed lack of frisking and pass checking, leading to mass entry and overcrowding.
Anguished students who went to the principal and other officials to complain, reportedly received only her apathy and insensitive comments. A girl stated, “It was scary and traumatic, and the administration refused to help.”
Several members of the Public and Media Relations and Students’ Union volunteers tried their best to help the students. They went out forming human chains and getting the girls from the crowd inside the barricades. A volunteer comments, “We literally pushed and fought the men back, stood on chairs to hold hands of girls in the crowd and helped them in front. When we were forming a human chain around the stage, a bunch of guys intentionally hurled themselves upon us and we fell down on the speakers. They began laughing and commenting on our bodies”
A lot of students took to social media to share their thoughts and personal experiences.
A student reported that she assisted in carrying out several women out of the ground in her hands. While two of them had panic attacks because of the harassment they faced, one was lying unconscious at the ground entry because a man had started masturbating at her. Another student was cornered by a group of middle aged drunk men who tried to molest her. On the assurance of anonymity, a second year student of Gargi College accounts, “15 girls cannot fight with 500 men alone. The teachers just sat on the sofas and saw everything unfold. When we asked them for help, we were told to fight everything ourselves.”
Anandi Sen from Kamla Nehru College, who also attended the fest, tells us, “I witnessed so many men just ‘scanning’ women from top to bottom. It is not only cheap but extremely creepy. The stares and silent smirks speak a lot. However there were some very decent people out there who ensured that you’re doing well in the jam packed crowd and ensuring that they do not brush or touch any person without their consent.”
There was a continuous pushing and passing comments in the dense crowd. Jammed networks made it worse – one couldn’t text or call in case of emergency because there were no signals. Students were stuck and couldn’t get out.
“I’ve always felt safe on campus except for the three days. The administration lets this happen trivializing our trauma year after year. We did not sign up to be told by the principal that itna unsafe feel karte ho toh mat aayakaro”, says a student of the College.
Random men stood outside the College throwing money at the girls, giving suggestive stares. Many of the girls were followed back to their PGs and metro stations by men in cars. A student reports that she was waiting outside the gate for a cab when a group of three boys adamantly kept on asking her if she wanted a ride and to just get in the car. This happened in the presence of police officers who were patrolling around.
“No amount of money you carelessly take for unknown people to enter the campus can ever pay up to my body being forced into being your property”, quotes Nilanjana.
A final year student wrote on her social media, “Gargi is our space to exist, where our voices are acknowledged not by the administration but by the wonderful women around us. However, every year, during Reverie, this one space we call our own is taken away from us and sacrificed to capitalism and hyper masculinity. We are afraid to move, we are harassed and ogled at. Men come and assert their dominance and toxic masculinity in the most brutal way possible, every year.”
In an official statement, the Students’ Union of Gargi College stated that gate duties are handled by the administrative staff wherein clear instructions were given by the Union to ensure lesser entries of only college students with a pass. Funds had been raised and made available for hiring a private security agency to ensure barricading outside the gate and competent bouncers. However nothing of this was in practice. Even the policemen weren’t as pro active as they should have been despite their repeated requests. Police vans were conveniently parked outside the college with all the mishaps taking place inside.
Suman, a student of the college summed up her fest experience, by stating, “Gargi you’re so much better, safe and homely without the star night”.
Feature Image Credits: Sanyukta Singh from Gargi College
Symphony’20, the annual cultural fest of Janki Devi Memorial College (JDMC) faced severe overcrowding leading to security issues for the participants along for the organising committee during Jass Manak’s concert performance at the final day of the fest.
Janki Devi Memorial College (JDMC) organised its annual cultural inter-college fest, Symphony 2020 on 8th, 9th & 10th January, 2020.It was one of the biggest events hosted by the college; a three-day extravaganza, power-packed with cultural events & activities. From literature, art, music to dance, street play, to photography, debate stimulations; it was the amalgamation of synergies of various participants from multiple colleges and universities.
On the final day of the fest, 10th January, 2020, popular Punjabi singer and songwriter Jass Manak had a concert performance in the college auditorium, where he enthralled the audience with his popular numbers like Prada and Lehenga. The performance, however, was exclusively for Janki Devi Memorial College students. Due to the pressure of the crowd present at the fest, there were security issues which caused problems for the participants. A first-year student at JDMC explained that she was inside the campus, but the disturbance was caused due to students from other colleges entering the venue to watch Jass Manak, hence creating chaos for the college students present there.
A JDMC student arrived at the campus to attend the concert but was prohibited to enter by the ensuing security staff even though they tried to reason that they were from the college itself. Dr. Swati Pal, Principal, JDMC, herself later came when chaos erupted at the venue due to the burgeoning crowd, and denied entry to the students, clarifying that the venue was full. The student further explained that outsiders were not informed about the exclusivity of only JDMC students at the concert, which caused these problems.
A student who attended the concert and requested to stay anonymous, shared that many fake enteries of outside students happened in front of them, hampering the entry of JDMC students even when they were on time.
Another member from the organising committee of the fest explained that some of the girls didn’t adhere to the guidelines and instructions of the union, and kept breaking lines, which subsequently created chaos. She acknowledged the college committee’s need to improve the management and logistics on ground, because of the ruckus which was brought about by a larger than life crowd, which proved too hard to handle. She, however, reaffirmed the success of the fest, and the security issue manifesting only as a minor hiccup in the erstwhile grand scheme of things.
Another member from the organising committee, Tanya Tyagi, the social media, head explained, “All the students of other colleges were made quite aware of the fact that students of JDMC will only be allowed to attend the concert as it is printed on our every marketing collateral and poster.” She also added, “All students who were on time were given entry. Students who are accusing us of not giving them entry were the ones who were late.”
Featured Image Credits: Rishabh Chauhan for DU Beat
Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) administration confiscated up to 700 non-valid Identity cards in the past three months after various “outsiders” were reportedly entering the University.
The administration of JMI has confiscated over 700 non valid identity cards in the past three months. Since August, 726 ID cards have been confiscated by guards on campus after “outsiders” attempted to enter the University Campus. Waseem Ahmad Khan, the Chief proctor, told Hindustan Times that checking for non-valid ID cards has always been a practice at the University. But, as complaints of “increased presence of outsiders,” surged, the administration decided to implement stricter checking measures.
The security guards stationed on campus said that “outsiders” tried to enter the campus for various reasons, including theft, harassment, substance abuse, and creating nuisance in the University premises. They also said students from other universities were allegedly coming to JMI to create unrest, and build a political space. When asked how guards detect the false ID cards, security person Nisar Ahmad, who currently mans the University’s main gate and has been working at the Varsity for over two decades, told a national daily, “Their behaviour and body language is different. When they are asked for student ID cards, these people either cover the hologram on the card, or hide the photograph or just show the backside of the card,”
Reportedly, not all the IDs that were confiscated were fake. Some were also expired cards of former students who wanted to access the campus. “People want access to our libraries. The card also doubles as a library card. We have found instances of people accessing our libraries using expired cards,” said Assistant Proctor, Shakeel Ahmad.
Faizan, a second year B.A. (Honours) English student from JMI, told DU Beat, “Security Checking at Jamia was always a menace, and things get bizarre when you have as many as 23 gates to cover; but in recent times the varsity administration has reviewed it’s security seemingly, with continual and repeated security checks at every point which could be prompted by the outside interference and related instances of Id card misuse.”
In fact, students reported that it isn’t just stern checking of ID cards. Since the appointment of the new Vice Chancellor, Najma Akhtar, canteens too, are closed earlier than usual. This concern for safety was explained by the administration. Allegedly, men from nearby areas come to the Campus to peruse and sit in the canteens and parks. Taking into account the safety of girls in the University, and the fact that the girls’ hostel is on Campus, the administration felt that stringent security checks are essential for guaranteeing the safety of women.
A common point on the agenda of every political party is women’s safety. Candidates promise to make the campus a safer space for women with the use of surveillance and police presence everywhere. But the question that looms in the air is where consent is during the elections.
As the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections inch closer, the University of Delhi (DU) experiences hooliganism at its best. Keeping aside the forgeries, muscle power, and the waste of paper, the elections also turn into a breeding ground for harassment and violation of personal space. It starts with the handing out of pamphlets and flyers at the metro station. Party members, associates, and strangers get in the way to hand out pamphlets and cards while whispering the classic ‘please vote and support’ in the ear. This violation of personal boundaries continues in the e-rickshaw and till the college gates where a line of supporters stand to greet the students, ask to vote for certain candidates, and force students to memorise their ballot numbers.
“As I enter college, people in line ask me to vote for certain candidates and repeat their names and ballot numbers and promise that I’ll vote for them,” says Chhavi, a first-year student at Sri Venkateswara College. A student, who requested to stay anonymous, shared, “I was on my way to the metro station from college, and three men on a bike followed me till the gate while shouting the name of a candidate.” A second-year student from Ramjas College also added, “As I was entering college, men in white shirts were trying to hand pamphlets to students forcefully. I avoided their gaze and continued walking but a car from the parking lot came in front of me. Though the car was metres away, one of the men jumped in front of me, held both of my hands and said in a meeting tone, ‘Sambhal ke chalo yaar, gaadi ag jati’(Be careful while you walk, you could have hurt yourself).”
The harassment continues in so many more ways. From shaking one’s hand forcibly or sending unnecessary Facebook friend requests, to Instagram photos no one gave consent for or getting student’s numbers from the admission form to ask “if they need any help”. As a matter of fact, no one does. They just need you to respect their space.The understanding of consent, boundaries, and harassment lie unclear in the minds of election campaigners and candidates. Even if they do understand, they choose to ignore it.
Pooja Thakur, Professor at the Department of History, Ramjas College, says, “Instead of running a campaign on taking up issues most pertinent to the students and upholding democratic functioning and gender parity and treating the posts they stand for as positions of responsibility and not of power, they end up doing the very opposite. Within the colleges they end up disturbing classes with the beating of drums, loud sloganeering and bursting of crackers. Apart from this, they use tactics as is used in any mainstream political campaigns by distributing freebies to organising informal freshers parties. They also use tactics like confiscation of the students ID cards which is only given to them on the day of voting wherein they are pressurised into voting for their candidates.”
The University is meant to be a place where ideas and dissent run free, where students can finally have the safe space they deserve. Instead, seeds of hooliganism, fear, and censorship lie in its lap. As time passes, more allegations of harassment surface; it makes one wonder, is the University of Delhi turning into space where identities are punished for who they are? Amidst all election manifestos, we are yet to see any points about the queer community or the Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi community. Climate change is another issue the parties continue to sleep on. The still silence on issues of inclusivity and harassment serves as a reminder of our privileges.
By bringing a popular star, organising committees think their fest was a success, conveniently ignoring the ruckus and lack of security beside the glamorous stage.
Perhaps, it’s an Indian thing: no regard for personal space and history of crowd disasters. Everyone- the organizers or the participants- has normalised trampling and minor injuries. It’s seen as an indispensable part of fest experience. This explains why the President of Lady Irwin College, Nikita Tiwari, bombarded the comments’ section of our Facebook post that reported the injuries and mismanagement suffered by the guests at Quintessence’19 instead of accepting responsibility. In the same breath where they admit to being crowded, she stated how such incidents are common and regaled the tale of hard work that goes into organising fests.
At Reverie’19, the annual cultural fest of Gargi College, reports of rampant sexual harassment were especially shameful, considering the fest theme emphasised consent’s significance. Gargi’s Union had substantial time to craft a sensible reply and do a self-assessment but it chose to deliver a response devoid of any apology, even taking credit for victims who voiced their experience, by stating- “Their standing against the discomfort experienced by them due to some ill elements present in the crowd, stood testimony to the success of our theme.”
Maghendra Pratap Singh, Cultural Secretary of Hindu College Parliament, told DU Beat that the medical room in a building in the sports’ ground was open, and volunteers were available to assist anyone who needed help. Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) was on the same bandwagon, but both the colleges failed to provide concrete answers about why this information wasn’t publicised. In case of an emergency, how can a non-Hindu or non-SRCC student be expected to know where the medical room is? Does the union expect the aggrieved to look for volunteers, instead of rushing to a designated help desk that should have been placed?
In the backdrop of Pulwama attacks, India is vulnerable to terrorist attacks; fests, like all mass gatherings, have a risk of being a terrorist attack target, which makes the first line of security at the entrance gate crucial. The top colleges of India seem to forget this and open their gates for all. On the last day of Mecca (Hindu College), the gates were left open without guards at later hours of the fest. The Parliament had no response for this. In SRCC, the entry (that was initially via passes for non-SRCC students) was opened for all. When asked about it, a union member said the decision was made by the administration to curb passes’ sale.
There is also a trend of hiring bouncers from private firms to guard star nights. The SHO of Maurice Nagar, Mr. RA told DU Beat that police can provide close to 100 personnel for a DU fest, but witnesses present only saw a maximum of 12-15 men.
At the risk of being highbrow, LSR practices strictness like no entry post 4 p.m. and pass-entry only. Kaushiki Arha, President of the LSR Union, explains how the security team of Tarang had a total of nine heads and sub-heads, around 30 core team members with close to 600 volunteers who were divided into different slots over three days. She said that in addition to basic medical facilities available in the campus, they tied up with Apollo Hospital, who provided them with a doctor and an ambulance on the second day of the fest since it was expected to see the highest turn-out. LSR doesn’t hire any private security, and has proven to be self-sufficient in terms of crowd control. If Tarang can have this sorted, then why can’t others
If organising committees can spend to book popular celebrities, then it is realistic to expect that they make sure that barricades, police, ambulance, entry-exit procedure, etc. are in place. The only reason why we see a pattern of crowd disaster is that unions don’t care enough about security. No doubt that immense efforts are invested in organising a fest, but the argument here is of a continuous negation of apt security measures. With manpower, money, and time, the organisers don’t get to play helpless when things go south.
The fest season has begun and so have the stories of chaos, harassment, and safety issues at these prestigious cultural festivals. Let’s see what went down at Tempest 2019.
Tempest 2019, the three-day Annual Cultural Festival of Miranda House took place from 14th to 16th February 2019. Reports of chaos, security breach, rape threats, and harassment arose on Day 2 and Day 3 of the fest.
On 15th February, a message from the Women’s Development Cell (WDC) was circulated for the girls to be safe as allegedly, some members of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) had barged into the college campus, and were acting very violently and threatening people with rape threats. An anonymous source from the WDC security team shared her experience, stating that on the same day she noticed something weird going on around the entrance to the barricaded women’s area. When she went to investigate, she saw a few men who were trying to intimidate volunteers into letting them enter. When she asked them to leave, they retorted, saying, “Aapko pata hai hum kaun hain? Humare saath Shakti Singh hai.” (Do you know who we are? Shakti Singh, the President, DUSU, is with us.)
When these people were blocked and not allowed to enter, they retreated but only with threats like “we’ll come back soon- just wait and watch” and “aaj 20 log laaye hai, kal 500 laayenge” (Today we have brought 20 people, tomorrow we’ll bring 500). She also added- “This kind of hooliganism has increased in the campus. There were men from Hindu College who had infiltrated the crowd, asking about the people who had taken part in the V-Tree protest the previous day.”
Anoushka Sharma, a second-year student from Delhi School of Journalism and a Copy-editor at DU Beat, also shared her horror story from Day 3 at Tempest. She stated that while entering the college on the third day of the fest, she was trying to show her media pass at the entrance to enter when a guy pushed her and said in a very rude tone- “Madam ji, kya kar rahi hain?” (Madam, what are you doing?). At first, she ignored but he was persistent and kept on insisting. When she told him about the media passes, he again said in a harsh tone- “Tameez nahi hai baat karne ki?” (Don’t you have any manners?). Seconds later, the guards opened the door and at that moment people started touching and groping her. She quoted, “The lady security guard had to hold me since I almost fell on the ground, and she told me to go inside through the lawns since there was less crowd there.”
Talking about the ruckus created at the gates, the Head of Security from Miranda House’s WDC told DU Beat that due to the crowd build-up at the gate, the Principal had to open the gate when 50 to 100 unidentified individuals without passes barged inside the college. She also added that men came up to her, and to the Vice-President of the Student Union to threaten them by quoting their support from DUSU. When they were refused entry, they said, “Agli baar toh fest hi nahin hoga.” (We won’t let the fest happen next time.” She added- “There was a sense of fear in the environment and the girls were uncomfortable by the presence of such people.”
When DU Beat contacted the Vice-President, she denied the story, saying that she personally didn’t hear any comments; however, due to the rush outside the gates, she talked to Shakti Singh who said that none of his people were involved in any such threats and misbehaviour. She also stated, “The passes said entry till 2 P.M. and people didn’t follow that which created more ruckus but actions were taken and things went smoothly later.”
These incidents are examples which show unsafe environment at fests. Even in a fest regulated with passes, unidentified crowd entered in mobs through the front gates and created a ruckus, not only threatening the attendees but also the organisers and volunteers. These prestigious annual cultural fests are the platform of growth and inclusivity which have now unfortunately become spaces for assault and harassment.
Quintessence, the annual cultural fest of Lady Irwin College witnessed a lot of mismanagement with forged VIP passes and a stampede.
Lady Irwin College hosted their annual cultural fest, Quintessence on 9th and 10th February 2019. Ayushmann Khurrana, the star performer of the cultural festival moved the crowd to his words and flairs on 10th February 2019. The over-excitement of the crowd resulted in a stampede taking place outside the venue gates, with too many people gathering outside and trying to force their way through. Though the organisers ultimately managed to curb the situation by allowing everyone standing outside to come in, even those without the passes.
Nikita Tiwari, the President of Student’s Council of Lady Irwin College said, “There was immense police pressure since the college is near Connaught Place. The crowd gathered outside ended up blocking the roads. The situation became such that the gates were about to be broken. Some students jumped over the walls and entered the grounds. There were kids, our sponsors, and faculty members in the crowd. Taking all these things into consideration, including a call from the DCP, we decided to open the gates and let people in.”
She reinstated that this took place outside the college and the event proceeded without any hassle. However, the students who were hurt during the stampede have a different tale altogether., Pranjal Bhandari, a victim of the stampede from Jesus and Mary College informed DU Beat about the same. She said, “The officials opened the college gates and let people without the passes enter the college, resulting in the stampede at the entry gates. Some people got hurt really bad. I was badly hurt, and my feet were bleeding. Despite asking for medical assistance from the core team, I didn’t get any. I was crushed by people with feet full of blood, and footwear broken, I was literally crying for help. All that the authorities said ‘yaha se aage chalo, clear the area’. When I reached out to the union members, they excused themselves by stating bheed main lagti hi hai humain bhi lagi hai.”
Another issue that she brought to light was the issue of fake passes. Bhandari said, “Two of my friends had VIP passes. They were still denied entry near the stage. Not only this, they were not even informed by the volunteers regarding a special area for the pass holders. All we got was rude and immature responses. It was a whole deal of mismanagement and we became a victim of it.”
The union accepts that there was mismanagement in the crowd handling department. They did not foresee the issue of crowd mismanagement and the printing of fake VIP passes. The union also agreed that they provided passes to Ayushmann’s manager for his fanclub and close friends. They claim that they called these people up and tried to get them to the special designated area. According to Tiwari, the passes were only sent to the core team, faculty members and sponsors.They themselves helped these people get in, yet the chaos of people led to some being caught up and become a victim of it.
The union says that everyone with the passes was treated fairly. However, Yuvraj and June, who claim that they got passes from Ayushmann’s manager said,“We had the VIP passes, but were not allowed to stand near the stage. We were not even informed about the special seating for the pass holders and had to stand all the way back. Later, we saw many people standing right in front the stage who didn’t have the VIP passes. One of them informed us the same .Seeing this, I decided to contact the President of the Student’s Union, but I was informed that she had left the college (just after the concert ended). I called her on Monday morning, she hung up on me. I called her again, but she kept on rejecting my calls.”
However, the union stands by the claim that they tried to help as many as they could with both passes and medical help, but those who were in the middle of the crowd could not be helped. Hence, some people might have been left. The president also said, “Students of other colleges have something bad to say, only because they are jealous of us doing so well. They can’t stand someone’s success.”
Quintessence is just another example that the University of Delhi is still a long way off from organising a fest without any issues. There are always helpless victims that get caught up in the mess that is caused, the student unions claim they did all they could, and others believe that they didn’t do enough. It ends up in a blame game where some just go with wounds and bad memories.
Feature Image Credits: International Conference on Learning
The college fests bring with them large and often overly enthusiastic crowds, necessitating tight security measures. DU Beat looks at what the security staff themselves have to say about this.
“Fest ke samay zyada satark rehna padta hai” (we need to be more alert during fests), tells us a security guard at Hindu College, requesting anonymity. Naturally, a larger crowd makes checking more difficult. The gentleman tells us that while they recognise 90% of the regular college students, strict ID checks are the first step before allowing entry to anyone – outsiders or not. The same sentiments are reiterated by a female security guard at Hansraj College, also wishing to remain anonymous.
Mr Damodar Singh, a security guard at Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) tells us that since it is easier for troublemakers to enter colleges during the fests, the security has to exercise extra caution – switching their phones off is the first thing guards do. Talking unnecessarily to anyone has to be avoided, lest some slip in checking may happen.
Colleges make extra arrangements during fests, especially for maintaining order inside the premises. Bouncers are often present around the campuses to control any chaos. Yet, perhaps their effectiveness is up for question.
Mr Singh tells us that bouncers have an important role to play if chaos erupts; security guards can’t get aggressive in controlling the situation as they have to encounter the students regularly. “Hum bas pyaar se samjha sakte hain” (we can only deal with students softly), he remarks. The lady at Hansraj also tells us how guards sit at the gates while bouncers handle the situation inside.
On the other hand, the gentleman at Hindu, says, with a chuckle, “Hungama hota hai to bouncers bhaag lete hain” (the bouncers run away if chaos takes place) – stating that in such cases, the guards themselves need to control the situation.
While the guards admit that some students get rowdy and try jumping on stages during music performances, they don’t really agree to alleged cases of misbehaviour or lapse of security happening at the fests.
Some students allegedly managed to get alcohol and weed inside the barricades during Crossroads 2018. Mr Singh, however, maintains that beedi, cigarettes and alcohol are strictly banned.
As was reported by the Hindustan Times, the crowd stormed the barricades during singer-actor Diljit Dosanjh’s concert at Hansraj’s Confluence 2017. A stampede was caused following a gas leak, accompanied by the felling of a firework station that caused some electric shocks. The security guard at Hansraj, however, denied these claims.
According to an article in the Times of India, similar incidents of crowd rampage and breaking of barricades took place during singer Parmish Verma’s performance at Maitreyi College’s annual fest last year, forcing the gig to be stopped midway.
Regardless of whether the accountability for these incidents is acknowledged, the probability for security lapses remains high. Of course, the management and organisers need to be held accountable. However, with enthusiasm and excitement running high among overwhelming crowds, the responsibility also lies on the students to exercise precaution and alertness and to maintain civility in order to ensure a safer environment.