Chandigarh University in Gharuan turned into a fortress as heavy police force converged on the campus following a massive protest by students against the alleged leaked videos of several female hostellers.
It all started around 4 pm on Saturday, when a few girls in the LC-3 hostel saw the accused student filming a video while she was in the washroom and brought the matter to the notice of the warden.
But after the warden allegedly tried to hush up the matter, an hour later, students sent out a message about the incident on the hostel’s WhatsApp group. A call for protest was also made and hundreds of students, including boys from other hostels, gathered outside the hostel around 9 pm.
Losing grip on the situation, university authorities summoned the police who arrived at the campus around 10.30 pm to find the huge crowd of sloganeering students.
Shortly after midnight, two students, who believed that they were filmed, fainted and were rushed to the civil hospital in Ghauran.
Convinced that the objectionable videos of several girl students were leaked, the students grew more restless and angrier and around 2.30 am, moved their protest to the toll plaza on Ludhiana highway, where they stayed till 4 am.
Police were forced to use mild lathicharge after protesters even pelted them with stones, demanding that the accused student be handed over to them.
Police assurances fail to assuage students’ anger
In the morning, more police force, including the Rapid Action Force (RAF), was stationed on the campus to prevent any untoward incident. The campus gates were sealed shut, barring entry of anyone, except mediapersons, who were also told to present identity cards.
Even as police tried to pacify the students that the accused student had been arrested, and that she shared only her personal video with her boyfriend and no objectionable videos of other students had been found, students refused to believe them and returned with a bigger protest around 4 pm, keeping police on their toes.
Raising slogans, the students continued to protest through the evening and refused to budge till late at night even after assurances by several senior officers, including deputy commissioner Amit Talwar, Ropar Range DIG Gurpreet Singh Bhullar and Mohali SSP Vivek Sheel Soni.
The SSP said as tempers were running high, heavy police force had been deployed on the campus to avert any untoward incident. “Police are keeping a close watch on the situation, while also proceeding with the investigation,” he added.
Established in 2012, Chandigarh University was founded by Satnam Singh Sandhu, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is also its chancellor. Around 30,000 students, including international students from 54 countries, are currently enrolled at the varsity, with the hostels housing around 10,000.
In June this year, the latest edition of QS World University Rankings had ranked Chandigarh University among as India’s Top 3 private universities.
The next month, the university secured the 29th spot in the National Institutional Ranking Framework 2022.
Students seek warden’s dismissal, inquiry against lathicharge
On Sunday, the protesting students also demanded that the warden of LC-3 hostel be dismissed from service and wardens of all girl hostels be replaced. They also sought an inquiry into the lathicharge on students on late Saturday night.
Interacting with senior officers of police and civil administration, and university authorities, the students demanded that the stringent hostel timings be relaxed and a student body be constituted on the lines of Panjab University.
“We will consider all demands of the students, but they need to submit them with proper protocol and agree for a calm discourse,” said RS Bawa, pro-chancellor, Chandigarh University.
Parents rush to pick up wards
On getting news of the incident, several panicked parents rushed to the campus to pick up their children.
The girl students at the said hostel are mostly freshers, who joined their courses just three weeks back and are not very familiar with each other.
The father of one of the hostellers said, “I promptly left from Himachal Pradesh to pick my daughter, as she was really scared amid the melee. We request the authorities to ensure proper safety measures for the hostel residents,” he said.
Protests in Chandigarh too
Condemning the alleged video leak incident, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) took out a protest march in Sector 17.
Terming the incident a violation of the privacy of female students, they demanded a fair investigation into the incident and strict action against the guilty.
Meanwhile, members of the Panjab Feminist Union of Students (PFUS) also made a call for protest at Student Centre on the Panjab University campus on Monday.