A court in Delhi on Thursday sent 10 youths arrested on Wednesday for allegedly sexually assaulting students at an all-women college of the Delhi University last week, to 14-day judicial custody, ANI reported. Those arrested are students in private and government colleges in the National Capital Region, the police said.
On February 6, during the annual cultural festival “Reverie” at Gargi College, hundreds of unruly, drunk men allegedly mobbed the entrances of the college and forced their way in. Students alleged that the group sexually assaulted them while the police looked on.
The arrested suspects, between 18 and 25 years old, did not have passes to attend the fest and allegedly jumped over barricades placed by security guards, South Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police Atul Kumar Thakur.
“They had gathered outside gate number 2 [of the college],” Thakur said. “They had pushed a caterer’s parked van against the gate to break it open. One of them then entered the broken gate to open it from inside.”
CCTV footage helped police identify the suspects. Around 30 of them have been identified so far and about 15 had been questioned, Thakur said. More arrests are likely. Eleven police teams are working on the matter, and security guards and college staff who were at the entry gate are being questioned, he said.
In an official statement on Sunday, the students of Gargi College had said that although a pass system was introduced this year for men to enter the college, things started going out of hand after 3.30 pm when a crowd of 300 to 400 men pushed through the gates. “The administration also showed its laxity by opening gates from time to time,” they said. “The police force and RAF [Rapid Action Force] did nothing to control the situation.”
The students said close to 1,000 men had gathered on campus. “Men stood in gangs, ogled at women, groped them, tried to feel them up and touched them throughout the concert,” their statement added. The students accused the principal of making insensitive comments.
The Delhi Police registered a first information report on Monday after receiving a complaint from college authorities. The case was filed under Sections 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Supreme Court refuses to hear plea for CBI probe
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court refused to hear a plea seeking that the Central Bureau of Investigation take over the case, reported PTI. The bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, asked the petitioner lawyer ML Sharma to approach the Delhi High Court instead. “If they dismiss the petition then you come here,” the court said, adding that it would like the High Court’s view on the case.
The petitioner raised concerns that electronic evidence in the case may be destroyed, to which the top court said: “Delhi High Court can also pass order like the Telangana High Court in the police encounter case to preserve electronic evidence.” The court was referring to the police encounter in Hyderabad of the four accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in November. The four were shot dead by the police under controversial circumstances on December 6.
The lawyer moved the Delhi High Court after the top court refused to entertain the petition. “It is a clear criminal conspiracy hatched by the political party to deploy accused persons to provoke the Delhi public for effecting voting in their favour,” the petition said according to PTI. “Despite presence of Delhi Police...on February 6, neither principal nor other state authorities tried to stop and arrest the accused persons.”
The petition also claimed that “deliberate chants of Jai Shri Ram” establishes that “it is a political, planned conspiracy” and blamed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for not taking any action against the accused.