Reading first-hand accounts of the fatality at the Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festivals stampede reminded me of the fest culture of DU. Especially women colleges of DU had ferocious gatecrashes, suffocating crowds and sexual abuse associated with annual fests over the years when celebrities were invited. Educational spaces responsible for the guarantee of safety for students turned out to be abysmal.
Reverie, the annual fest of Gargi College, University of Delhi, was held between 4-6 February 2020. The first two days of the fest had exciting cultural events and competitions between societies of different colleges with legitimate entry checking and management.
Gatecrash And Stampede
Entry was valid with ID cards only for students of DU, DTU and IIT-Delhi for the first two days. On the third day, male students could enter only by special passes before 4:30 pm. Last day’s artist line-up of singer Jubin Nautiyal created pandemonium.
Mass of men convulsed the iron gates for entry, shouted abuses and sparked a frenzy. Contradiction is that many were not students, but outsiders, alleged drunks and goons. The CPRF and Police employed for protection couldn’t control the wave of the crowd, and gates were opened more than once.
An anonymous student who got stuck in the stampede enunciated her experience,
“It was my fest at DU, we were trying to figure out which entry it was but suddenly the gates opened. I got swept along with the mob. There was no space even to move forward. The railing behind me with iron wires snuck into me. I could feel my feet being crushed and my skirt was torn. I was scared of being assaulted, I shouted for everyone to please leave me.
I am thankful to the two guys who tried to shield me that day. With sighs and cuts on my legs, I nearly escaped the mob. Never thought my first fest experience would be crushed under the DU mismanagement. I think twice today before attending any crowded event.”
Sexual Harassment And Non-connectivity
As the evening wore on, the situation became even more uncontrollable and women had to bear the brunt of it. Many were molested, verbally abused and marginalized to the corners of the male gaze. They were stranded alone in the land where there was no network to communicate or complain
Manisha, currently a third-year student from DU recollects her first fest, “Hailing from a small town, I never attended any concerts. It was a dream for me. When I was collecting food, I was uncomfortable and afraid when some older men indirectly passed comments at me.
As Jubin Nautiyal’s performance time was coming, the crowd was getting huge. I couldn’t step forward much and get separated from my friends. No calls or messages could be sent, it was very difficult to come out from the sea of people.”
Zari Hrahsel, a student from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, is a fan of Jubin Nautiyal, and even a bigger fan of his song Chitthi since her school days, recollected
“I was on the left side of the stage watching a fashion show, a friend from Gargi led me there by circling the entire ground. When the crowd moved forward, I lost her, I was supposed to meet another friend but couldn’t reach her at all.
I walked back to the stalls and stood by the entrance hoping at least one of them would come searching for me. But situations didn’t suffice. So, I chose to go home rather than to stay at the concert alone. Afterward, I heard about the assaults of so many women, I was shattered.”
Collective Protest By Students
From north-eastern students being called out “chini maal” openly to women being groped and harassed, DU fest became an open ground for exploitation. After the event, the transportation facility was very diminutive outside the gates. Helplessness, agony and trauma pervaded the red-walled campus presupposed to be exhilarating at festivals.
Over the years from a stampede at Honey Singh’s concert at Ramjas in 2012 to mobs gatecrashing in Miranda House, fests have become more and more unsafe. Some colleges could manage while others couldn’t.
The students of the Gargi college protested collectively against the sexual assaults and mismanagement, formed a Fact-finding committee to go into the depth of the events. Many students expressed their experiences and views on social media, pointing out a bigger gap in the safety measures taken for women on campus and beyond.
Petitions were filed, FIR lodged and seventeen people got arrested. Many questioned the functionality of Police and CRPF personnel on the day of the event, how could the mob be not stopped?
Hoping for safer academic spaces for women where they can grow and flourish freely. When you visit a fest, even if you are late, look for the separate line designated for the entry of students. Even if you want to go close to the stage, find an open space where you can enjoy yourself freely.No one is ready to take accountability for situations, we as women always have to talk, protest and conquer our space manipulated in the patriarchal society.
Image Credits: Google Photos, DU Updates and Scroll.in
Find The Blogger: @debanjalidas15
This post is tagged under: DU, DU Fests, college fests, North campus, south campus, astroworld, Travis Scott, Gargi fest, Gargi College, Reverie Gargi College, concert, Delhi university, university of Delhi, sexual violence, stampede, MeToo in campus, ByWomenForWomen