Three days after an unruly mob of around 35 men, some of whom were reportedly drunk, barged onto the campus of Delhi’s Gargi college – an all-girl’s institution – allegedly shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans and sexually assaulted students, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal responded, stating this afternoon that his government would “not tolerate misbehaviour with our daughters” and demanding the “harshest possible” punishment for the culprits.
“Misbehaviour with our daughters in Gargi College is very sad and disappointing. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerate. Culprits should be give the harshest possible punishment and we must ensure that children studying in our colleges feel safe,” the Chief Minister wrote on Twitter.
Delhi Police have initiated a probe into the assault that took place as students celebrated a cultural festival on February 6. However, Atul Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi), told news agency ANI a formal complaint had yet to be filed.
A senior woman officer – Geetanjali Khandelwal, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police – will lead the inquiry, according to news agency ANI, which also said cops were scanning footage from CCTV cameras and speaking to students to ascertain facts.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has also sent a team to investigate the incident.
“I read on social media that girls were molested and no step taken by the administration. I have sent a team. They wanted to talk (to the) principal and also to talk to police. I can only react after they talk to them,” Rekha Sharma, the NCW Chairperson, said.
Over 100 students, furious over the “complete lapse of security” at one of the city’s more prestigious institutions, took out a protest outside college gates this morning. Speaking to NDTV, one of the students described her horrific experience.
“My friends and I were standing in a group… another friend was taking our photo when a group of three men came and threw money at her and walked away laughing and cheering. When I wanted to report it to the Proctor I really could not… there was no signal in our phones. Something happened to us and we felt so powerless,” she said.
Another student told NDTV that the security issue – students needed ID cards or passes to enter the campus – was “totally wrecked” and that gates were damaged because large mobs pushed their way into the college campus.
According to eye-witness accounts and social media posts by students and staff, at around 6:30 pm on February 6, packs of unruly, drunk men forced their way in and assaulted women, chasing them all over the campus.
“The administration did nothing to control it. The RAF (Rapid Action Force) personnel were standing right across the campus. They did absolutely nothing. We have visuals,” another student told NDTV on condition of anonymity.
“The crowd was so massive we couldn’t move out. I was groped three times and had to stay in for 40 minutes. When I did go out to an empty space… a man started masturbating at me. As soon as I escaped from that place a first-year student came to me running saying a group 5-6 men were cornering her,” she added.
According to news agency IANS the men were part of a pro-citizenship law rally.
The shocking incident, which took place two days before Delhi voted in bitterly-contested Assembly elections, has also drawn criticism from the opposition.
Congress leader Shivani Chopra, who contested Saturday’s poll from the Kalkaji constituency, hit out at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP as well as the BJP.
“They are not letting me enter the campus. It is a shameful incident. Chief Minister of Delhi should come out and stand in solidarity with the students. In fact, Home Minister Amit Shah should also come out and take cognizance of the law and order situation,” Ms Chopra said.
Responding to the incident in parliament today, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said the alleged sexual assault on Gargi College students was “not right” and said the college administration had been asked to look into the matter.
With input from ANI, IANS