Fest fervour strikes Delhi University: Frantic precautions in order at colleges! - Hindustan Times
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Fest fervour strikes Delhi University: Frantic precautions in order at colleges!

ByKriti Kambiri
Feb 09, 2024 05:48 PM IST

DU students are ushering in the fest season but with a few tweaks. Tighter security, restricted entry, and daytime celeb performances are a few among this list.

’Tis the season of cultural fests in Delhi University and guess what’s keeping the young guns blazing? Seeking entry to the fest, and getting tuned to groove during the day amid tight security. But, will this keep the infamous fest chaos at bay?

JDMC students recently enjoyed a rock show during the afternoon hours at their fest, Symphony ’24. (Photo: Shantanu Bhattacharya/HT)
JDMC students recently enjoyed a rock show during the afternoon hours at their fest, Symphony ’24. (Photo: Shantanu Bhattacharya/HT)

Shooting stars in daytime!

Especially the all-girls’ colleges on campus seem to have taken the precautionary move quite seriously. Among these is Gargi College fest, Reverie, which was last held in 2020. “Out fest this year is on February 13 to 15,” informs Shanti Sehgal, vice president of college’s student council, adding, “For this year’s star performance we’ve invited musician Nikhil DSouza, but he’ll perform around noon. Had it been like earlier times, this star performance would’ve begun only around 7pm and continued till 9pm. But that have in the past led to students leaving the campus very late. Now, when the college will get cleared out by evening, we’ll hopefully have less security concerns. Also, we will have a Delhi Police PCR van and ambulance stationed inside the college premises to deal with any cases of emergency.”

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Audience from outside? Entry denied!

It was only the fest time when students could check out other college campuses earlier. “This year, our fest Feria ’24 is accessible only to our peers. From other colleges, only those students who are participating in competitions are allowed entry,” informs Ishika Arora, cultural president at Institute of Home Economics (IHE), adding, “From the point of view of security, we have 15 officers from Hauz Khas Police Station stationed here at all times since the fest is ongoing. Alongside, a team of 13 bouncers — five women and four men — are ensuring that there’s no lapse on the safety front.” A similar planning was witnessed at the recently concluded fest of Janki Devi Memorial College (JDMC), which didn’t allow students from outside to be present on campus unless they are participating in a competition.

Departure from pre-buzz trend

Earlier, one would get to hear news and see fest teasers months in advance, which were shared to attract a larger audience. Now, the dates of most college fests are being announced only a week prior. “We’ve opted this approach to ensure that no unwanted crowds get attracted to our college,” informs Pranita Seth, a final-year student of Miranda House. She’s part of the college's cultural fest organising committee and adds, “The more buzz we generate, the more commotion follows. So this year, we’ve decided to keep it low key so that only students who genuinely want to compete can get access to enter the campus. Pre-registration is also a must this year for participants to enter the college during the fest dates. For security, we’ve requested for 35 bouncers, which includes 25 women and 10 men.”

Fest fiascos that have left hearts and bones broken

  • February 2020: Gargi College students witnessed a few men forcefully entering the college campus. Several students highlighted the incident on social media after which the Delhi Commission for Women also condemned it. This incident was even raised in the Lok Sabha! The investigation that ensued led to the arrest of 12 individuals under the harassment case.

Gargi College students protested against harassment faced during the fest in 2020.
Gargi College students protested against harassment faced during the fest in 2020.
  • October 2022: During the Diwali Mela at Miranda House, some men scaled the college walls and indulged in catcalling, sloganeering and groping female students on campus. The fair had to be called off leaving the college authorities huffing and puffing to get the campus evacuated.

Men jumped walls of Miranda House during the Diwali Mela in 2022.
Men jumped walls of Miranda House during the Diwali Mela in 2022.
  • March 2023: Overcrowding led to closure of main gates at Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW); on day 2 of the fest. This led to a stampede-like situation where several were hurt, including one student who ended up with a fractured femur. Later, some students alleged that some men who had scaled the college walls during this commotion were harassing students.

Students of IPCW witnessed a stampede-like situation during their fest in 2023.
Students of IPCW witnessed a stampede-like situation during their fest in 2023.
  • October 2023: Bharati College students attending IIT Delhi’s fest, RendezvousX, reported that they were filmed while changing clothes in a washroom. A college staffer was later arrested on grounds of voyeurism when the Delhi High Court took suo moto cognizance. Later, the court even directed Police and all varsities to frame SOPs for security measures during college fests.

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