Delhi University’s Indraprastha College for Women saw very low attendance on Thursday driven by fears and panic around the communal violence that has gripped North East Delhi for the past five days.
Students told Scroll.in that they were fearful after a video of police action was circulated on student WhatsApp groups late on Wednesday. This set off multiple rumours of gunshots and violence being heard by students in the college hostel.
Scroll.in could not verify any incident of violence late on Wednesday. However, eyewitness accounts from the area did confirm an incident in the early hours of Wednesday.
That rumours have swirled and students have chosen to keep away from college, fearing for their physical safety, illustrates the anxiety sweeping Delhi as the capital sees its worst communal violence in n four decades.
Multiple students confirmed to Scroll.in that a video of police action outside Indraprastha college circulated on Whatsapp groups late on Wednesday. “As soon as we received the video, panic spread through our hostel,” said one student from the Indraprastha College Women’s Hostel.
The hostel is located across the road from the college campus.
At around 1 am, multiple accounts said they had heard loud sounds which many students interpreted as gunshots. The Delhi Police denied anything of the sort had happened at the time.
With violent rioting taking place close to the college in Northeast Delhi, this put students on edge. “We couldn’t sleep all night,” one students at the hostel told Scroll.in. “We kept our wallets close by and were ready to run in case anything happened.”
She continued: “So many of my friends who live in Delhi told me to leave the hostel and come live with them.”
The result of this panic meant that Indraprastha College saw very low attendance on Thursday. “We are scared to go out of the hostel; safety comes first,” another student told Scroll.in.
Scroll.in was able to confirm the video that sparked off this panic. Early on Wednesday, a group of protestors staged a protest at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence – located just a few hundred metres from Indraprastha College for Women. A smaller group was chased by the police to an area outside the college, assaulted and then arrested.
This was when the incident got captured on video by the staff of a convenience store.
Vinod Singh, a constable at the Civil Lines police station, confirmed to Scroll.in that these protestors were arrested by the police at the time.
Professor Babli Moitra Saraf, principal of Indraprastha College confirmed low attendance on Thursday. “There is unrest in the city,” she explained. “Why should women be coming out of their homes when they are not being assured safety and security?”
The college has also postponed its annual fest scheduled to be held on March 6-7 due to “safety and security issues in the city”.