| Male students encourage their female counterparts during the relay race at Patna College annual sports on Tuesday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
The famed sporting spirit was marred a bit during the annual sports day of Patna College, as eve-teasers aimed their verbal barbs at the girl students participating in different events.
The event was organised on Tuesday after a gap of three years. But that did not prevent some of the male students from passing lewd comments and whistling as their women counterparts took to the tracks in the presence of the college principal and senior teachers.
Patna University vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh inaugurated the sports meet at 10.30am with the promise that such events would be held regularly henceforth for the overall development of the students.
Satyaveer Singh, secretary, Patna College sports committee, said: “Sports inculcates discipline among students and also reduces animosity and discrimination.”
But it remains to be seen how far sports would be able to inculcate ideas of equality and mutual-respect among some of the students who sat beside the tracks and whistled as the women athletes took part in their events.
Those with a modicum of sporting spirit were exhilarated. “It is awesome that so many girls are participating in the event. I have been studying in the college for the past two years but this is the first time that sports has been organised,” said history student Ankita Sinha.
But the healthy atmosphere was disturbed by the presence of the teasers who were conspicuous like a sore thumb among others who had come to encourage their fellow students to achieve sporting glory.
The sports day was not a rare opportunity for the teasers to run riot, claimed students and teachers at the college. The misogynists have a free run on the campus and they target whom they please without fear of punishment.
“Not a single day passes without an incident of eve-teasing. In most of the cases, no action is initiated against our tormentors,” said Sushmita Das, a first-year postgraduate psychology student who took part in a number of events.
She added: “We have no option but to ignore such comments.”
Recent events at the college have dealt a blow to the sense of security among students.
“The Friday’s incident has shaken all of us, especially the girls,” said Sushmita.
On Friday, two girls, out on a morning stroll on the grounds of Patna College, were abused and molested by a group of four youths, all said to be students of the institution.
The youths then severely assaulted six boys, including the brother of one of the girls, who had rushed in to help after hearing their cries. One of the assaulted youths had to be admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital with a fractured leg.
The students are so scared of attracting unwanted attention that that they have started abjuring certain attire. “Girls have even stopped wearing jeans to the college,” said Manisha Kumari, another psychology student.
The girls also claimed that the college administration never checks the identity cards issued to students. The lapse in security is an added encouragement for teasers.
Asked why they do not complain against their tormentors to the gender sensitisation cell of Patna University, most of them said they had no clue about it.
The cell has been constituted recently to prevent teasing and gender discrimination. But very few seem to be aware of its existence.
“Just opening a cell will not help the students. They have to be made aware of its functioning,” said Shanker Ashish Dutta, a senior English teacher at Darbhanga House.
Patna College principal Rash Bihari Prasad Singh said he had requested the district administration to provide more policemen at the institution.
Regarding the incident on Friday, he said: “The college has issued showcause notices to the erring students. They have submitted their replies. The college disciplinary committee would meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to take a decision on the incident.”
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