A college in Gujarat’s Bhuj town has suspended its principal, hostel rector, and peon after police registered a case against them for allegedly forcing undergraduate students to remove their undergarments to prove that they were not menstruating, reported PTI. The suspension came two days after the alleged incident took place on February 13.
Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute’s trustee Pravin Pindoria confirmed that Principal Rita Raninga, hostel rector Ramilaben, and the college’s staffer Naina were suspended after the FIR was filed against them. A woman, identified as Anita with no links to the college, has also been named in the FIR.
The accused have been booked under sections 384 (extortion), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 355 (assault with intent to dishonour a person). However, no arrests have been made in the case yet. A seven-member team of the National Commission for Women is also investigating the matter, reported ANI.
On February 13, the hostel warden had reportedly told the principal that some students were violating religious regulations during their menstruation cycles. The college, set up in 2012, comes under Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kutch University. It is run by followers of Swaminarayan Mandir. Menstruating women are not allowed to enter the temple and kitchen premises as per the sect’s rules. Hostel inmates are not even allowed to mingle with each other while menstruating.
On Sunday, the women’s commission spoke to 44 of the 68 students who were allegedly forced to strip. “Surprisingly, we were informed that the girls did not any have problem with this practice and the only issue was with the way of checking whether the girls are having their periods or not,” the NCW said, according to The Tribune. “Also, a register was maintained at the college for the same.”
The inquiry team, however, said that the college administration has expressed ignorance about such rules for menstruating students. The team will present its report to the commission for further action. The commission also said that during the admission process, women had to consent to not eating in the dining hall and to sleeping on the floor while menstruating.
After the incident, the deputy superintendent of police of Bhuj said a case was registered against three officials of the college administration and the hostel supervisor.
The official in charge of the university, Darshana Dholakia, had earlier said that strict action would be taken against those responsible for the incident. She later told ANI that the matter was related to the hostel, and no one touched the students. “It has nothing to do with the university or college,” she added. “Everything happened with girls’ permission, nobody was forced for it.”
The NCW panel has also asked Dholakia and the director general of police to investigate the case and report to it.