Gargi college molestation case: Many withdraw cases citing ‘legal process’
A month of several women students reported sexual harassment at Delhi University’s Gargi College after hordes of outsiders barged into an annual fest, several of them have not recorded their statements, some even withdrawing them, before the police citing “tedious legal process”.
The students are pinning their hope on the college’s fact-finding committee formed to look into the incident, which is expected to submit its report and recommendations this week. Members of the committee told HT that around 250 students were either harassed or witnessed harassment during the event.
The police, which is also investigating the case, had arrested 17 people. They were later released on bail.
Principal Promila Kumar said, “Police is doing its own investigation and we are doing everything that needs to be done at college level. For instance, we have arranged for counselling of students, workshops and have also conducted Internal Complaints Committee elections.”
On February 6, dozens of men forcefully entered Gargi College during its three-day annual festival Reverie 2020 and harassed women students on campus. Students told the committee that they were flashed, groped, verbally harassed, and even had money thrown at them.
Following the incident, students called for a college strike on February 10 and demanded an investigation into the matter. In addition to the First Information Report (FIR) registered, the college also constituted the fact-finding committee (FFC) with members from the faculty and students to investigate accounts of molestation and security breaches.
A third-year undergraduate student, who alleged that she was sexually harassed during the event, said she withdrew her case with the police. “Most students have withdrawn their [sexual harassment] testimonies for multiple reasons. I would have to fly back and forth for the case. Keeping this in mind, I don’t want to pursue a legal recourse. All of us have a lot to lose when it comes to our future... Talking about it repeatedly is difficult for me. They need to hold someone accountable for the security breach,” she said.
Another third-year student said, “Students are anxious about what is happening. We want the report to be taken up with higher officials like the college governing body, university and Delhi Commission for Women and ensure such incidents do not happen again,” said another third-year student.
Police officials said at least 100 suspects were identified using videos and CCTV footage. Another arrest, of a suspect who had recorded himself barging into the campus and sharing the video online, is likely soon, they added.
“We have asked students to come forward and share any details for the ongoing investigation. We have also asked the licensing department to cancel the license of the security agency responsible for managing the entry and crowd that day,” said a senior police officer. “Many students, who had reported harassment, have not recorded their statements and we have asked them to do so.”