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Delhi campus safety alarm

New Delhi, Aug. 26: After two recent incidents of rape and molestation, Delhi University authorities are taking steps to make campuses in colleges affiliated to it safe for women students.

Efforts are on to implement a policy against sexual harassment while more police personnel are being posted. There are also plans to train women students in techniques of self-defence.

Women students, however, are not convinced that safety could be enhanced by these measures only. They argue that it is outsiders who cause these problems and unless they are barred, complete security cannot be ensured.

“Nothing short of a compact campus is going to solve the problem. On the surface, everything might look normal, but it is important to know that only 1 per cent of the victims report to the police,” said Sunita Ozah, president of the postgraduate women’s hostel.

Conversion along the lines of the Jawaharlal Nehru University or Aligarh Muslim University may not be easy as Delhi University has a number of affiliated colleges spread all over the city. It has two campuses — the north and the south Campus — but the notion of a campus is limited to only administrative blocks and some postgraduate teaching faculties as the various colleges came up at different periods and are run by independent trusts.

The maximum that may be possible at this stage is building a parameter wall around the colleges of north campus — from Khalsa College to Hansraj College — and regulating the traffic within. But there is a problem. Being adjacent to Ring Road in north Delhi, the campus is also the connecting link to several residential and commercial areas. Erection of walls would mean diverting traffic through lanes that have limited capacity.

Construction of the metro rail has not made the task any easier. With a portion of Ring Road blocked, traffic has been diverted through a loop connecting the University Marg. Officials said this is likely to continue for at least another year before the normal route is reopened.

Gurmeet Singh, the joint proctor, says it should have been anticipated in the early 1920s, when the university was founded, that such security problems could arise. “Now it’s virtually impossible to transform it into a totally impenetrable campus,” Singh said. “But, of course, measures have been taken that will enhance the safety of women students.”

The Delhi University Students’ Union, however, does not believe it is an impossible task. “It’s the lethargic attitude of the authorities that has contributed to these shameful incidents. And it is the same attitude that will prevent the university from getting transformed into a campus like that of JNU”, said Nitu Verma, president of the union.

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