New Delhi: Hundreds of students at DU’s Indraprastha College for Women have held multiple demonstrations in the last few days, demanding the resignation of the newly-appointed principal over security lapses during the recent annual fest and alleged authoritarian steps.
The recent "saffronisation" of the college has only added to the anger of the students who have also claimed increased surveillance and curtailment of freedom of speech ever since Poonam Kumria took charge as the head of the century-old institute on February 21.
PTI talked with the protesting students, who said that they have noticed a "huge difference" in the way the college is operating under Kumria.
According to students, the college’s boundary walls have been painted saffron, the same colour has also been added to its logo and guests being invited to the college events are controversial figures.
They are also irked over the "authoritarian" manner in which the administration is operating and reacting to the protests demanding women's safety.
The college principal did not respond to calls and texts from PTI seeking a response to the allegations.
Earlier, students registered their discontent through social media. They did not resort to demonstration until the March 28 incident when some "unknown" men allegedly trespassed, shouted slogans and harassed women students during the annual 'Shruti' festival at the college. A similar incident was reported during an event at Miranda House College last year in October. The students have alleged lapses on the part of the administration.
"The principal did not make a proper arrangement for the safety and security of the students. They knew that over 12,000 students will come and there is a high chance that hooligans might show up at the event," a first-year student who did not want to be named said.
The administration's response further outraged the students.
"The principal is not taking any measures. She is not giving us a proper answer. She called police on the campus, who are lenient on the perpetrators and are pushing and shoving students," she said. Students’ anger against Kumria has been simmering since February.
"Since her coming to the college, there have been many changes, our walls that were white have been painted saffron, and our college’s logo has also been changed to saffron with a very highlighted lotus in the middle. Shruti’23, the annual fest of IPCW was also inaugurated by a very controversial figure Navika Kumar, who has made many Islamophobic comments on television," said Shambhavi, a second-year student. "She used IPCW's official Twitter account to post wishes on Hindi new year which clearly shows her bias, her Twitter account has many Islamophobic tweets and under her presence, liberty, democracy and freedom has had a clear attack inside our campus," Shambhavi who is associated to All India Students' Association (AISA) said.
Last week, a former IPCW student tweeted several photos of the college's outer boundary and logo, saying: "DU is overturning its own glorious and revolutionary history by painting the walls saffron!" Anjali, who is also the DU Secretary for AISA, said, "The college is witnessing saffronisation. No consultations with the students or professors were made either. Using saffron on walls and logos is a clear violation of the democratic nature of the institution." A third-year student accused the administration of operating in a draconian way.
"Whatever changes have been made in the past two months, no proper communication has been put out and no announcements have been made," alleged a third-year student.
"We were told by our seniors and teachers that the college is a historical building and no changes are allowed. Now, the whole boundary walls were painted saffron. It is clear-cut political messaging. People at the university are shocked and nobody was informed about it," said the student, who does not wish to be named, fearing action from the administration.
The students claimed that the logo was changed without any notification. The logo of the college, which is a lotus inside a swastika in a black and white motif, too has been changed and embedded in a saffron-coloured circle.
Students have claimed that the principal has also increased surveillance of the professors.
"The students have also alleged that the principal has also increased surveillance on our professor, she has been clicking their photos in the classroom," Shambhavi said. PTI VA.
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