Were the girl students at DU college attacked simply for organising a fest celebrating diversity?
As our students continue the renewal process in society by asking questions of the establishment, they are being projected as the new threats to democracy. It isn’t surprising then that in the past three months, there has been a systematic assault on public universities and students ever since the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). As if the January 5 incident — where masked men entered the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus and beat up teachers and students — was not enough, some goons allegedly molested girl students at Gargi college. Unidentified men gatecrashed the premises during their annual fest, which was themed on diversity, abusing, groping, molesting and harassing them. As if they were being punished and psyched out for encouraging liberal conversations with an assault where it hurt most, their dignity. Contributing to the horror was the mismanagement by the Delhi University (DU) Vice-Chancellor, the college administration and the police. What was most shocking was that the principal, herself a woman, underplayed the incident and asked the girls to leave if they felt “unsafe.” Such bigoted view of the principal is certainly neither enlightening, nor reassuring to students, who are being told to not practise what they learn, namely free speech, in campuses across the country. How many heads of institutions will abdicate their responsibility now?
The less said about the passive behaviour of the Delhi policemen, who were to ensure the safe conduct of the fest, the better. Looks like mute spectatorship is their practised drill now as they failed to seal the college premises and allowed hooligans to jump the gate even as the girls screamed for help. They did not even file a complaint until four days later. Although a probe into this matter has been ordered, what needs urgent redressal is how the goons sneaked into the campus without I-cards. The bigger question is: How do we ensure safety for women students who are being intimidated for being free-thinkers? No politics of divergence can justify the horror the girls underwent. When a woman’s honour becomes a political tool of negotiation, then we as a society are definitely not respecting her. This is just another example of demonisation of women, who are leading protest marches, acquiring leadership positions and forcing a new political agenda. The violence at Gargi is just another attempt to stifle an alternative opinion.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)