Monday, Jul 04, 2022

JNU: Teachers, Students Raise Issue Of Campus Safety

The students' union accused the security agency of being apathetic towards gender issues and women's safety.

A Ph.D. student was allegedly molested on JNU campus on Monday night.
A Ph.D. student was allegedly molested on JNU campus on Monday night. PTI

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) and the students' union on Tuesday accused the varsity administration of neglecting campus safety after a Ph.D. student was allegedly molested there on Monday night.

They alleged that there has been a string of security lapses on the campus and pointed out that the accused in the January 2020 attack on teachers and students are yet to be arrested. "There have been burglaries in the houses of faculty members, the January 5 attack when masked men entered the campus and attacked students and teachers and then this incident," JNUTA secretary Moushumi Basu said.

"Students work in the libraries and the incident happened on a well-lit road near the East Gate and the accused sped off towards the North Gate where the security guards are deployed and there are CCTV Cameras," she said. She also raised questions on the working of Cyclops security agency.

"The QRT vehicle came after 15 minutes of being informed of the incident though it was patrolling inside the campus," she said. She said that the Cyclops security agency comprises ex-servicemen but there have been a number of problems.

In September last year, the university's vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar had said that the contract of the security agency (that had expired) was extended till the process of appointing a new security agency was completed. This process will require at least six months, he had said. The JNUTA had alleged at that time that their contract was renewed.

The JNU campus is spread over 1,000 acres and has a large green area. According to the students' union, the incident happened around 11.45 on Monday near the VC house. "This has brought to surface the very question of women's safety that the administration has always chosen to neglect and is another reflection of the sluggishness with which crimes against women are taken up in our country in general and the JNU campus under the VC in particular," it said.

The students' body alleged that there has been an increase in "gender insensitivity in the campus with normalising of sexist comments and misappropriate remarks along with an alarming increase in cases of stalking and harassment".

"There have been many instances of sightings of hooligans in speeding cars, playing loud music and hooting, making it very uncomfortable for women to step outside during the night. In most cases, it has been observed that the people involved are not even students of JNU," it alleged.

The JNU administration replaced the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) with the ICC in September 2017 in its 269th executive council meeting, a move which was extensively criticised by student and teacher bodies, apart from women's rights organisations.

"The said incident brings to light the failure of JNU administration that dismantled the GSCASH and replaced it with the inefficient body called the ICC. "The incident also calls forth the need to reinstate the democratically elected GSCASH to fight against sexual harassment and to sensitise the people on campus regarding gender and gender-based crimes," the JNUSU said.

With inputs from PTI.