IP College Fest Harassment Row: DU committee chief sets priorities for panel, defends principal

A five-member committee will be probing the alleged harassment of women students at IPCW. The students have demanded resignation of the principal.

Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) row. (Source: AISA)Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) row. (Source: AISA)

Press Trust of India | April 4, 2023 | 05:56 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The current priorities for the five-member committee probing the alleged harassment of women students at Delhi University's IP college is to build back trust between the students and the administration and resume classes hit by the continuous protests, the head of the panel said on Tuesday.

Prakash Singh, the South Campus director who is heading the committee, said the panel will talk to all stakeholders, including the protesting students and the college administration, to understand their positions. The students have been holding regular protest demanding the resignation of Poonam Kumria, the principal of the Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW), for allegedly failing to ensure safety on the campus.

Also Read | Students' group claims 15 activists detained during protest outside IP College, police deny charge

Singh defended Kumria, saying she took over as principal of the college "very recently" and there are committees which handle events like these. "The principal has joined the college very recently. It's been hardly a month since she joined the college. Why a principal who has recently joined a college would like chaos in her college? The priority is not to look at the fault of a person but to strengthen the security at the college," he said.

On the question of accountability, Singh said it is part of the larger investigation. "So many people are involved in conducting a programme. No doubt it is a priority of the head of the college to maintain security. (But) all work is not done by the principal. The work is done by committees. We will look into whether there was some committee to look after the security or not. The college administration will also be asked to provide evidence to back its side," Singh added.

Also Read | DU's IP College students allege saffronisation of college, increased surveillance under new principal

While a section of students is accusing the principal, another is praising her efforts. "Some people are accusing the principal while a section has told me that the principal was trying to control the situation. There are two sides to it. We will discuss all aspects. We will ask the college to provide their side," he added.

The students have alleged that some men climbed the college boundary and harassed several women students during a cultural festival on March 29. Following their protests, the DU formed a committee on Monday to look into "the grievances raised by the students" and asked the panel to submit its report in a week. Singh said the committee will listen to all stakeholders to get to the "bottom of the matter" and work with the police to figure out ways to prevent such incidents in the future.

Also Read | IP College for Women students demand principal's resignation after campus harassment incident

The committee will meet on Wednesday and discuss ways to strengthen security at the campus, he said. "We will also visit the college and talk to stakeholders to understand their complaints," Singh told PTI. "The priorities are to resume classes, build back trust and find out ways to prevent such incidents in the future. We will also look at whether the entry of men should be prevented during fests in women colleges," he said.

The police have registered an FIR under IPC sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 188 (disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant). The IPCW has said in a statement believes all those responsible for the incident should be punished and all information received by it will be provided to the law-enforcement agency with a request to expedite the investigation. But the students have stuck to their demand for the resignation of the principal and also asked the college management to convene a general-body meeting to discuss the issue.

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