New Delhi: After their protest on Monday night (October 9), activists of Pinjra Tod, a women’s collective, held another protest on Wednesday, October 10, demanding that the Delhi University administration roll back the curfew imposed on girls’ hostels across colleges since the past three years. So far, the university administration has turned a deaf ear to repeated submissions of memoranda by the collective.
On Monday, the deputy proctor had told the students that action would be taken within two working days, but no written confirmation of the same was received by Pinjra Tod. On Tuesday, when the students confronted the proctor, the conversation turned into an endless cycle of deflecting questions, where the proctor said that the most of the demands made by the students were out of her jurisdiction.
On Wednesday, about 100 activists of Pinjra Tod and students from various colleges of Delhi University assembled in front of the Faculty of Arts at 1 p.m and marched through the university campus, talking to students in colleges about the problems they have been facing. More students kept joining the march, which soon swelled to about 300 students, said activists.
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“Yesterday’s march was not so much focused on the administration, instead we were keen on talking to the students and asking for their support,” said Natasha Narwal, a member of Pinjra Tod. However, the students did manage to talk to the Principal of Miranda House, who heard them out on all the problems they had been facing, like curfew timings and moral policing in hostels.
However, the Principal said even though she understood some of their demands, she could not unilaterally take any decision. She assured the students that she would talk to faculty members of the college. The students agreed with this on the condition that the Principal gives them a date by when she would get back to them. After some deliberation, this date was decided as October 30.
The protestors then marched toward SGTB Khalsa College, but the police barricaded Chhatra Marg, stopping them on their way. “The police were scared that we would block Mall Road again,” said Narwal. The students tried to convince the police that it was a peaceful march, and they only wanted to reach the college, since their friends were locked in their hostels because of the curfew. When they failed to convince the police, they decided to sit there until the barricades were removed.
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After long negotiations and scuffles with the police, the barricades were finally removed, after which the students managed to reach the girls’ hostel of Khalsa College. “It was a beautiful moment. All the students came to the balcony, and even though there was a gate between us, we were having conversations, singing together,” added Narwal.
Finally, the protestors went back to Arts Faculty, and held a meeting, where it was decided that October 30 should be the deadline for all college administrations to take a decision. Narwal said, “Students said that we have been living under deadlines, but this time, we will give a deadline to the administration.”
The protest ended around 9 p.m.
Girl students across the country are protesting against unfair rules and curfews in colleges. They are on a hunger strike in Punjabi University, Patiala and are also protesting in Central University of Rajasthan, Ajmer. “How will this administration account or even attempt to answer the questions of women students who have been caged, discriminated against for so long?” asked the activists of Pinjra Tod, in a page on their Facebook page.