SRM University in Chennai’s Kattankulathur area erupted in protests after news spread that a cleaning staff of the university’s girls’ hostel masturbated in front of a student in a lift on Thursday afternoon. When the college administration was alerted about the incident, it blamed the student’s “inappropriate dressing” for the incident, students alleged. The police arrested the 28-year-old accused on Friday.

The incident occurred when accused took the lift along with the second-year undergraduate student of SRM Institute of Science and Technology. The student wanted to get out on the fourth floor but the sweeper pressed the sixth floor button. He did not let the student go out and took the lift to the eighth floor and didn’t leave the student until she screamed.

“The man masturbated in front of the woman student in the hostel lift, following which she reported the issue to the authorities,” the students told PTI.

As the news spread like wildfire, hundreds of students came together, raising slogans alleging inaction by the administration. Women students broke the lock of the hostel gate, secured by the administration to keep the women inside the hostel.

“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.

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The student had identified the man in the CCTV footage. However, the authorities asked her to stay mum about the incident

What’s even more shocking is that when the woman student raised the issue with the hostel warden, she delayed access to the CCTV footage of the elevator and the registering of a complaint by over two hours.

“The student had identified the man in the CCTV footage. However the authorities asked her to stay mum about the incident,” the protesters said.

However, the university Vice-Chancellor refuted the allegations of inaction by saying, “Students are discussing with us. Whatever the matter is, it will be taken care of. If there is a matter, it will be inquired,” the VC told PTI.

In a video of his meeting with the protesting students, he is seen telling a girl, “Don’t try to make an issue out of nothing.”

“Even in the past, male workers have masturbated 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,” said Manisha, an alumnus who graduated in 2015, NDTV reported.

Police have advised the college administration to only hire women staff for the women’s hostel in future.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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