Shreya Roy Chowdhury, TNN | Sep 2, 2012,

NEW DELHIDelhi University decided to crack down on rallies and demonstrations on the campus after a complaint of molestation during one such event on Friday reached vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh on Saturday. In a terse, one-line order, the proctor imposed a “ban” which is being seen by large sections of the university community as undemocratic.

“In the light of the reported incident of eve-teasing and disturbing harmony in the campus during the student rallies, the university has decided to ban all rallies and demonstrations of any kind within the Delhi University campus till further notice,” said the order.

The complaint was made by an Indraprastha College student. At an interaction with the V-C on Saturday, other students from the college also raised the issue. The student was travelling by rickshaw near the Arts Faculty when she was molested, allegedly by some participants of the rally organized by National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) though the organization has denied that the miscreants were their members.

The “ban” has raised the hackles of both students and teachers. “I condemn the molestation and demand an investigation into it. I also condemn the ban and this behaviour of the university. It is shameful and undemocratic,” said Amar Deo Sharma, president, Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA).

The student bodies seemed to be united in their opposition to the ban. Both Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and All India Students’ Associaion (AISA) declared it undemocratic and asked why campus security can’t be more effective. “The fact is that the administration is inefficient when it come to these situations. Why couldn’t they identify the culprits and take action against them?” asked Sunny Kumar, general secretary, Delhi state, AISA. Rohit Chahal ofABVP wondered why footage from cameras placed on the campus and videos taken by guards and onlookers couldn’t be used to identify the molesters. “the university authorities are running away from their responsibilities. They should’ve taken action only against the culprits,” fumed Chahal.

NSUI denied that the molesters were part of its throng. Its spokesman Amrish Ranjan Pandey said: “Whoever has done it, has done it to ruin our image. We want them punished too.” He condemned the ban.

Apparently, ABVP is planning an “all women” rally on Monday in North Campus to protest against the molestation. And they might even be successful. The police point out – and highly-placed sources in the university agree – that the university has no jurisdiction over the roads. “The students have a right to protest on public roads as long as they do not compromise the law and order situation and have the required permissions. The university restriction is applicable only within the university and respective college premises,” says DCP (north) Sindhu Pillai. “We are trying to build pressure. Security is a great concern and many students have asked us to control these rallies,” said a source.

At the meeting with the VC, the students had said they “wanted such rallies banned”. Prof. Dinesh Singh had said in response that he was trying to work with the police to do exactly that. “I met the police last week and I will meet them again. We want to ban these rallies too,” he had said.

The victim had complained to her college but didn’t go to the police. The case was forwarded to them by the proctor on Saturday. “We have received the DU complaint. This is a serious allegation and we are contacting the victim concerned. We will definitely lodge a case if the girl is ready to file an FIR. We assure her that her safety will be our concern,” said Pillai.

Delhi Police will also be stepping up its presence in North Campus. Besides deploying women cops on bikes, more policemen in plainclothes will be posted outside prominent colleges from Monday. “This is the third incident of criminal instigation ever since the university elections were announced,” said Pillai. “Hence, the hostels too will be well-covered.”

(With inputs from Dwaipayan Ghosh)