A year after a student of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) was raped in Bangalore University’s Jnana Bharathi campus, security continues to remain lax and inadequate on the campus.
A reality check by Express on the situation inside Bangalore University revealed that at the ladies’ hostel located less than a km from the Jnana Bharathi police station, the 500-plus undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students live in fear. Although the BBMP took measures to asphalt roads in the area and the police tightened security measures immediately after the incident on October 10 last year, a sense of insecurity haunts the hostel students.
Universities in the state were forced to review security for girl students when two months later a 23-year-old pharmacy student was gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi. And again on June 20 this year, a medical student from Kerala was abducted from the Manipal University campus and gang-raped by three auto drivers.
Says Reena (name changed), an MTech Civil Engineering student staying in the ladies’ hostel for over one and a half years, “Jnana Bharathi is very unsafe. It is completely dark after sunset and there are no streetlights anywhere. There is no question of us venturing out after that.”
Even during the day, Reena goes out in groups with her friends. “Even if we have important work, or if it is going to the city during weekends, we go in groups of four or five or at least two or three,” she says. “In case of a threat or attack, we will then have enough time to figure out a defence strategy,” says Reena. Her hostel-mate Tsering (name changed) sitting next to her in the hostel room nods in agreement.
Deepika, an architecture student, prefers to stay back with her relatives in the city if she has to return to Jnana Bharathi late in the night.
“Post 7 pm, autorickshaws refuse to come to the campus and there are very few buses. Even if we do take autos along with a few friends, it is very scary. So, I stay over at a relative’s place,” she says.
In fact, despite police claims of more patrolling, there are no Hoysala and Cheetah vehicles in the area and groups of drunk men hover around the hostel campus. “Sometimes, we do not keep the corridor lights switched on as it would give a very clear view to people passing by the road. To avoid trouble, we sit and chat on the staircase so that we don’t draw unnecessary attention from passersby,” a girl said. After the rape last year, police beefed up security by deploying eight men to patrol the area.
Two checkpoints were also introduced through which vehicular and pedestrian movement is stopped between 9 pm and 4 am.
While the Jnana Bharathi police have already asked the university authorities to provide streetlights and CCTV cameras, no work has started, said DCP (West) D C Rajappa. “We wrote a letter in April and sent a reminder last month, but the university authorities have not got back to us.”
The measures sought include CCTVs at all entry and exit roads and hostels, barricades restricting entry into bylanes, and more gates in certain parts of the campus. “More lighting is required, especially on roads that lead to department buildings where students attend classes. The police are doing everything they can. Now, the university has to appoint more security guards in places which we cannot monitor all the time,” he said.
A constable said the thick vegetation on the sprawling campus makes it hard for the police to make students feel safe.
“The area gets so dark that men and women fear to venture out. We have already written twice to the university authorities regarding these issues, but nothing has changed,” said another officer. Bangalore University Vice-Chancellor B Thimme Gowda admitted to delays in securing the campus as a funds crunch prevented the implementation of measures across the campus sprawling over 1,000 acres.
‘We Feel Safe Inside’
However, the NLSIU located in the same premises has enforced stringent safety measures after the rape case. Unlike the Bangalore University campus, separated from it just by a security checkpoint, NLSIU premises is equipped with sufficient streetlights and is guarded by police personnel.
Movement is restricted at the law college gate after 9.30 pm and security checks are carried out rigorously.
“We wrote to the State government post the rape incident and they provided safety measures around the law college campus. The security was certainly scaled up after the incident. However, there is less lighting on some stretches of BU campus,” said Rajat of the Student Bar Association.
When asked if she feels safe on the campus, Archana Subramaniam, a student at NLSIU, said, “Within the campus, there are no safety issues. There are CCTVs put up around the campus, all gates are guarded by police at all times.” “During the day, we can move about alone without any fear, but otherwise, we go in groups,” said Deekshitha Ganesan, another student.
(With inputs from Alevoor Dinesh Kini in Udupi, K Shiva Kumar in Mysore and Marx Tejaswi in Gulbarga)