In a women's college in Bhuj, Gujarat, 68 undergraduate hostellers were paraded across the campus into toilets, where they were forced to remove their underwear to prove they were not menstruating.
The shocking incident allegedly occurred on Thursday at the Shree Sahjanand Girls' Institute, which runs under the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Bhuj. The institute, founded in 2012, was shifted in 2014 to a new building beside the Shree Swaminarayan Kanya Mandir.
Students say that the alleged actions by the administration were taken following the hostel rector's complaint to the principal accusing few hostellers of violating religious norms of the institute with regard to menstruating women, according to a report by the Ahmedabad Mirror.
The sect of Swaminarayan follows norms that bar women from entering the temple and kitchen area or even touching other students if they are menstruating. The hostel administration complained to principal Rita M. Raninga that these rules were being flouted by some girls, a hosteller told Ahmedabad Mirror.
Rector Anjaliben allegedly called the principal while the students were attending lectures. They were apparently taken out of their classrooms and queued outside, where the principal allegedly insulted them and enquired about students who were menstruating. Two students who were menstruating stepped up. Nonetheless, all the hostellers were paraded to the toilets where female teachers allegedly asked them to remove their underwear to see if they were lying about menstruating, students said.
Most of the hostellers come from remote villages and thus, have to stay in the hostel, which they share with students of a high school, which is situated on the same premises.
National Commission for Women on Friday took suo-moto cognisance of the incident.
"We have taken suo-moto cognisance in the matter and have set-up an inquiry team to visit and speak with the students at Shree Sahjanand Girls Institute in Bhuj, Gujarat," the Commission told the media.
An SSGI trustee, P H Hirani, told the newspaper, “As the institute has a temple on campus, the girls have been instructed to follow the sect's rules. However, what happened to the students is unfair. Action will be taken."
Even though students have not filed a complaint with the police regarding Thursday's incident, the vice-chancellor of Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kutch University, a state university, has formed a committee to probe what happened.