Posted by Sumedha Pal
Being able to tell your story is a form of wealth that is being redistributed. The courage and the rising number of women speaking their truth is making powerful men furious. The instance at Satyavati College was another example of the culture of disruption that Delhi University is grappling with.
Satyavati College, in collaboration with She the People Tv and Google, organised a seminar on Digital Trust on the 22nd of February. The session was aimed at creating safer spaces for women on the internet and countering harassment in the complex social media landscape.
I was in a panel discussion today organized by Satyawati College Family counseling center, google and she the people TV on online harassment. When the event was going on 40 ABVP goons came in and disrupted the event. Attacked professors and were after my life. Picture of talk pic.twitter.com/FOr8dE7p7X
— Kawalpreet Kaur (@kawalpreetdu) February 22, 2018
The panel constituted well-known women: co-founder of Ungender Esha Shekhar, UN Legal consultant Risha Sayed and Kawalpreet Kaur, a student of Delhi University law faculty and the president of All India Student’s Association (AISA). Kaur was invited to share her personal experience of dealing with harassment and being trolled online. She recounted her struggle with derogatory remarks and threats online.
The seminar was soon disrupted by a group of 30-50 men, who barged into the venue, sloganeering and threatening the women on stage. The men were confirmed as members of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti Parishad (ABVP) who specifically demanded the removal of Kawalpreet from the stage.
In a brazen display of toxic masculinity, they vandalised the ongoing seminar, hurling slander and derogatory remarks. Shaili Chopra from She the People TV, present at the talk describes the incident as “seeing the trolls from behind the screens come alive”.
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The members of the gang threatened professors and students alike. Women students were seen huddling in a corner, fearing for their safety, while these men were too busy asserting their power on the premises of the university campus.
It becomes important to see this act as one which was deliberately targeted to create an atmosphere of fear. The disruption continued for about 30 minutes and was controlled with the intervention of two policemen who took Kawalpreet to Bharatnagar police station. Kunal, the union secretary of Satyavati College and also the ABVP affiliate, questioned the policemen as to where they were taking Kawalpreet.
Although the college administration responded swiftly and acted against members by suspending two men responsible for the ruckus The FIR at Bharatnagar police station is yet to take full recourse over the actions of ABVP members.
Notice by Satyawati College. Will ABVP senior leaders like Saket Bhaguna who had been running slander and derogatory campaign against women students apologize and rein in its Goondas? pic.twitter.com/4Bqpp9hDIl
— Kawalpreet Kaur (@kawalpreetdu) February 23, 2018
This instance is symbolic to understand the deliberate, carefully planned silencing of female voices against sexual harassment. It needs assessment beyond the spectrum of university politics.
A call for a protest was given by Kawalpreet, which led students to gather at the Bharatnagar police station. Kaur stated that attempts to muzzle female voices should be met with resistance.
Sumedha Pal is a graduate of Cardiff University’s Journalism school. She works on the language of sexual crimes. When not slaying the patriarchy, she spends her time with strays. She can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.
Featured Image Credit: Al Jazeera