Liberty at the cost of molestation

Liberty at the cost of molestation

On October 4, a 24-year-old PhD scholar of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was held for allegedly molesting a girl of Delhi University inside a JNU hostel. According to the complaint lodged by the victimised girl, the accused molested her when she went to meet him in his room.

The incident made headlines more because JNU has been known as one of those few institutions which is oriented towards freedom of students but this time failed to maintain safety.

Be it in any college, safety of girls is of priority for college administration especially in JNU where there are multiple hostels in campus – six for girls and 11 for boys. One of the most renowned universities of the country, JNU allows its student to move about in the campus late nights, where girls can visit the boys’ hostels but boys are not allowed to enter the girls hostels. The moot point is, how can such a liberal environment lead to an incident such as this.

“There are many students who object to this discrimination of prohibiting boys in girls’ hostels and girls visiting boys’ hostel till 10 pm. These are the set rules. However, there is no denying that students violate norms,” says Dr Rajan Kumar, Assistant Professor, School of International Studies and warden of Narmada hostel, JNU.

He says, “Students in JNU come from different cultures and communities, and are mainly post-graduates and scholars. They are mature enough to understand the actions adopted by them. We cannot keep an eye on them only for security reasons and stop them from group study.”

“It is to primarily maintain security in hostels that workshops for students have to be conducted for retaining a healthy atmosphere. Meanwhile, to maintain the overall security of the campus 300 security guards are deployed and stringent actions can be taken by the administration if a student is found guilty,” opines Rajan.

He informs an Inquiry Committee probing into the molestation case has been framed but refused to comment on the suspension of the accused.

However, for students of JNU the molestation incident in the campus hostel is hard to believe. According to Aparajita Pandey, second-year student of International Relation and also a hosteller says, “JNU has a free environment. Library is open all day and night.

Students, whether girls or boys, can be seen moving in the campus in late night hours. There is no fear in the campus, everything is free and open. It is hard to believe somebody can commit such an act at all.”

Meanwhile,  in order to maintain safety, hostels in Delhi University not only restrict the entry of girls in boys’ hostels but vice versa as well. Mridusmita Goswami, a PhD scholar living in Women’s Hostel, DU says, “Keeping in mind our personal safety we do not leave the hostel premises after eight pm.  Men are not allowed in our hostel and security guards are available round-the-clock to prevent any incident.”

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