Why is it acceptable to pretend that the mass groping, sexual assault and organised intimidation of the young women of Gargi College on the evening of February 6 never happened? All geared up to enjoy the final evening of their annual fest, the girls had arrived to find a crowd three times the size of the usual gathering at the venue. The main gate had been thrown open and no one was checking for the mandatory visitor passes. Middle-aged men, far too old to go to college themselves, put their hands on everyone near them. Many said they were part of a pro-CAA rally. They were heard chanting Jai Shri Ram in accompaniment to their execrable moves. With no space to turn or run away, the girls were left with no choice but to stand and fight. Each to the best of their ability, they endured what came their way. That included cheap taunts and offers to buy them make-up should they go out with their abusers.
The motive of the assault was clear. It was to deter women from participating in co-curricular activities. Strangely, that was exactly the sentiment echoed by the principal of the college, Promila Kumar, when a student complained: Do not come to the fest if you feel unsafe. She pointed out a special arena for girls on the premises, saying they should have confined themselves to that space. An FIR was registered only after the DCW issued a notice to Delhi Police and the outraged students took out a march on Monday. The FIR was registered under IPC sections 452, 354, 509 and 34. Yet the ample security at the venue had played the role of mute spectators, if not cheerleaders, for the duration of the raid. Why is it even acceptable not to discuss what happened at Gargi College? How else can one investigate, introspect and affix responsibility where it belongs? Does the name of Ram absolve one of moral wretchedness? It is an open question.