New Delhi, (PTI): Four days after a group of men broke into the all-women Gargi College and allegedly groped, harassed and molested students, Delhi Police on Monday registered a complaint as hundreds of students protested demanding strict action against the intruders.
The outrage of Gargi students following the attacks during their college festival Reverie on February 6 found wide echo with students from other colleges sharing their anguish, political parties speaking out and the issue being raised in Parliament.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the incident "extremely unfortunate" while Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said those involved in the act were outsiders and the college administration has been asked to take strict action against them.
The Delhi units of the BJP and the Congress united on a common platform with both asking that the culprits be arrested at the earliest.
Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal also reached the college, in the Siri Fort area in the heart of south Delhi, to take stock of the situation. The DCW issued a notice the college and the Delhi Police for "inaction".
Fighting allegations that the college administration turned a deaf ear to their complaints and did nothing, Gargi College Principal Promila Kumar said a general body meeting was held with the students and the matter amicably resolved.
"The college has filed a police complaint and has also set up an internal inquiry committee to look into the matter and speak to complainants. The police have begun their probe and are collecting footage," she told PTI.
The students alleged that the men, in their 30s and drunk, groped and dragged girls and performed obscene acts, while security and Delhi Police personnel stood by like mute spectators.
Reliving the nightmare of the men gatecrashing into what they considered their safe space, a student said there was complete lapse of security.
"The students were groped, molested and even assaulted by the men. The college claimed to have made security arrangements. I don't think such an incident has taken place on any college campus across the country," she said.
Requesting anonymity, a political science student added that some men jumped over the gates while others jumped over walls.
"They were drunk and went berserk. Some girls ran towards washrooms, but the men followed them and locked them inside," she added.
The students alleged that they were threatened by the intruders, who also made objectionable remarks and used cuss words.
They also claimed that auto drivers, who had parked their vehicles outside the main gate of the college, also entered the campus.
"The college had hired bouncers for security. The security personnel were also standing right there and watching it all. My friend, who was molested, rushed to a security guard and pleaded him for help but he did not move," a student said.
Their ordeal aggravated after the college refused to take cognisance of the incident, the students alleged.
"The next day, on February 7, we took up the matter with teachers and the college management. The management said they had taken note of it. They didn't promise to take any action, after which many students shared their horrific experiences on Instagram," a B.Sc student added.
According to Atul Kumar Thakur, DCP (south), a case has been registered under IPC sections 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
He said the case will be investigated by Inspector Pratibha Sharma, Crime Against Women Cell of south District.
Police are scanning the footage of CCTV cameras to collect evidence and speaking to students to ascertain facts, the officer said.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, who raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, said sexual harassment and bullying often takes place in many higher education institutions and action should be taken in such incidents.
"What happened in Gargi festival is disgusting! Such festivals are opportunities to celebrate the cultural diversity & talent in Delhi. But the obvious anti-social elements saw this festival as another chance to inflict harassment & violence on students!" said Kejriwal.