On February 22, some 30-40 members from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) disrupted an event on ‘Digital Trust Dialogues’ organised by the Family Counselling Centre of Satyawati college in collaboration with Google and SheThePeople TV. ABVP is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Kawalpreet Kaur, an activist and a member of the All India Students’ Association (AISA), was attacked in the incident. The disruption was allegedly caused in the light of Kaur’s presence as a panelist for the talk on digital safety. Kaur was subjected to verbal abuses, and when the police came to rescue her, they asked them, “Where are you taking her? We will take her life.”
She condemned the incident and said, “What happened at Satyawati college was nothing about AISA vs AVBP but a sheer display of toxic masculinity – to show a woman her place in politics.”
An FIR has been registered at the Bharat Nagar Police Station. The Staff Council has unanimously recommended the suspension of the two students involved, namely Kunal Yadav, and Aman Awana from the college with immediate effect, pending the recommendation of the inquiry being conducted by the Proctorial Committee of the college.
The student’s union of Satyawati college along with the Staff Council has strongly condemned the incident. The organisers and the founder of SheThePeople TV have spoken up to extend support to Kaur.
While there have been protests of resistance, Kaur also speaks of negative campaigning against her as mentioned in her Facebook post: “I am actually distressed about the slandering that ABVP has started. They are saying my entry is banned in the college. These are all rubbish lies. I was invited as a speaker as I had faced online harassment in the past. I had gone there to share my experience. The funny part is, can I have no liberty to go anywhere? Why is ABVP afraid of me?”
The rumours are based on account of a similar incident from last year at Satyawati evening college. She had filed an FIR against the members of ABVP for abusing and raising questions on her character and nationality. “They even called me an anti-national and a slut,” Kaur alleged in her complaints.
The fear among students has intensified. While this is indicative of how safe spaces function only in rhetoric, the incident evokes different dimensions of power dynamics, politics of emotions and lurking fear. “As much as I understand the fear instilled in people, I encourage them to speak up more openly to reclaim these spaces that pronounce freedom and liberal ethics to demand the rightful,” said Kaur.