Visva Bharati molestation case Hundreds from northeast march in Kolkata
KOLKATA, SEPTEMBER 6
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver 500 students from the northeastern states walked here on Saturday in a show of support and solidarity for the woman student from Sikkim, studying at Visva-Bharati University, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by three students.
Holding aloft posters saying “Respect Women” and “Where is government, Where is justice”, the participants, braving the rain, rallied for more than three hours from College Square in the north to Esplanade in central Kolkata under the banner of the Northeast Forum Kolkata.
“It is a peaceful march to show solidarity with the student. We also want to highlight the lack of women’s safety in general and also the discriminatory attitude of people towards students from the northeast,” Jason Lepcha, general secretary of the Sikkim Students’ Association of Kolkata (SSAK), told IANS.The first-year fine arts student was allegedly sexually assaulted by three students in August. They allegedly recorded the assault on video and blackmailed her.
A Bengal court last week sent the three accused to three days’ police custody. They were arrested Aug 30 and booked for criminal intimidation and outraging the modesty of a woman. The accused have claimed innocence.
Organized by the SSAK, the rally also witnessed the participation of local students. A few members of the association visited the student and her parents at Visva-Bharati this week.
According to members of the SSAK, one of the primary demands include “confiscation of the gadgets/electronic devices owned by the three accused and sending for a forensic evaluation”.
In addition, they want a separate inquiry committee to be formed to “determine the lapses on part of the varsity authority”.
“The committee should submit its report directly to the human resource development ministry, President of India and the Prime Minister,” a member said.
“This can happen to any woman, not just somebody from the northeast and we want to highlight the necessity of safety measures in educational establishments,” SSAK member Rinchen Bhutia told IANS.
The university, founded by Asia’s first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Bolpur town of Birbhum district, suspended the three and lodged a police complaint following an internal probe.
The female student’s father, however, accused a university official of offering him money to hush up the matter and not to approach police.
The women’s commission has already taken cognizance of the incident and said it will seek the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.