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Women’s safety, now in their own hands
- Utkal University to introduce martial arts classes for security of female students

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 9: Utkal University officials have decided to introduce martial arts classes for female students from next month. This has come four days after the University Grants Commission (UGC) instructed authorities of higher education institutions across the country to beef up security for girls and women on their respective campuses.

In his letter, UGC acting chairman Ved Prakash has asked varsity officials to “seriously review security arrangements… and wherever necessary, the arrangements may be further strengthened both in and around the girls’ hostels on the campuses.”

Utkal postgraduate council chairman P.K. Mishra said he had issued a circular to hostel superintendents and department heads to comply with the UGC guidelines.

“We also plan to raise the height of the boundary walls and intensify patrolling on campus. But these steps will not be enough unless we make our girls self-reliable. Martial arts lessons will equip them with the power and expertise to protect themselves in adverse situations,” he said.

The university authorities have approached some reputed karate schools, which have evinced interest to conduct the self-defence classes.

“We are in touch with sports department officials for sponsorship. If things work out early, we might begin the classes by this month itself,” Mishra said, adding students would be required to pay a nominal amount for their costumes and other accessories.

Boarders in all the six ladies hostels have been instructed to return to the campus by 6pm.

Utkal sources said though patrolling was conducted on a regular basis, the university required more security personnel.

“At present, we have 60-odd guards. We need more personnel for a campus as big as this. The police outpost near the main gate makes no difference, as the cops there never take any action to keep trouble at bay. They just stand and stare,” said a senior officer of the university.

Authorities said their earlier plan to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and biometric entry system at all the hostels to restrict unauthorised entry of visitors has been shelved because of financial constraints.

“Besides, there is always a fear that the costly equipment might be damaged by trouble makers,” the officer said.

The UGC has also asked varsities to constitute a dedicated task force comprising senior employees to constantly monitor the existing arrangements and proposed ones besides initiating steps for the security of female employees.

“The measures would ensure that girls and women have a safe and inspiring learning environment,” Prakash said.