Nearly a thousand women students protested on Thursday midnight at SRM, Kattankulathur after a student alleged that a man who works on the campus masturbated in front of her in the hostel lift. Students allege the college administration blamed the young woman for her “inappropriate dressing”. The 28-year-old man was arrested yesterday.
A second-year undergraduate student of SRM Institute of Science and Technology in Kancheepuram was sharing the lift with the 28-year-old S Arjuna on Thursday afternoon when the alleged incident took place. “She pressed the button for the fourth floor and he pressed the button for the sixth floor,” a woman student told NDTV. The worker, according to the student, did not stop the lift and took it to the eighth floor. “He did not let her go until she screamed,” she said.
“University officials blame it on our dressing, calling it inappropriate. They do not take our complaints seriously. In the past too, there have been instances of male workers peeping into our rooms, intruding into our privacy,” a student leader said.
One of the protesters alleged that the hostel warden, with whom the student had raised the issue, allegedly delayed access to the CCTV footage of the elevator and the registering of a complaint by over two hours.
The man identified as 28-year-old employee at Chennai’s SRM University. He was arrested by the police yesterday for allegedly masturbating in front of a woman student.
The warden who shamed the victim by saying she was wearing “inappropriate clothes” was also suspended by the university.
The arrest and the action against the warden came a day after massive protests erupted outside the university campus, which is located on the outskirts of Chennai.
The student complained to the warden who, students allege, blamed the woman for the incident.
Students alleged that the hostel warden brushed her concern aside and shamed her for being “inappropriately dressed”.
Another student accused the university of trying to suppress the matter. The protester said the warden, who has now been suspended, allegedly delayed access to the CCTV footage of the elevator.
On Friday, Sethuraman said the “culprit in question” was an “outsourced contractual employee who collects food waste from the mess.”
“Having circumvented basic security provisions, he was in the lift when the incident occurred. As the hostel is well equipped with CCTV, it helped us identify the culprit quickly,” he said.
There was a “slight delay” in filing a police complaint due to protocol requirements and seeking consent of the parents concerned on the matter, “during which the situation escalated,” he said.
“Based on the incident (that) occurred, a committee has been commissioned to look into the issue and the warden has been suspended.
It is also looking into strengthening the students’ safety and security measures in the campus,” he said.
Underlining the institute’s commitment to ensure safety of the students, he said there were woman guards and counsellors who “are at the service of the students.” “Students are given the freedom to voice their concerns, issues and challenges.
The entire security system processes and procedures are being relooked, prioritizing the security aspects,” he said, adding that the institute would give the “very best” for each student in every aspect of campus life.
Manisha, an alumnus who graduated in 2015, says, “Even in the past male workers did masturbate in front of girls both on campus and off campus, on the way to the railway station, and our complaints were not taken seriously. Then too officials blamed it on our dressing.”
The police have advised the college administration to employ only women staff in the women’s hostel.