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Endeavour vs i20

A class divide has led to controversies and violence in Amity University – not over any academic or political issue but over parking of student cars

While JNU and DU hog the limelight, especially during student elections, the world of private universities is also filled with churn and controversies; those which make the headlines on the second or third page and those which are buried down under.

On social media, a hot topic of discussion has been Amity University, situated in Noida’s Sector 125. The rich brat culture which is prevalent in the varsity reached a pinnacle of sorts in a recent incident. It has created a class and gender divide and led to verbal arguments and at times, violence.

Strangely, the disparity among the classes starts right in the parking lot, which has become a conflict zone for Amitians. When this reporter visited the campus, a blue BMW car was parked right in the middle of the road at Gate No. 4 with two barricades surrounding the car, creating traffic congestion along the service lane.

When the security guard was asked about the car, he claimed, “All the cars are parked as per availability on a ‘first come first served’ basis. We do ask these students to not park in an obstructive manner but they are bade baap ki aulad (children of big guns) and consider us nobodies. Before we can take any action, they park the car and walk away.”

Contradicting this testimony, Nakul Khandelwal, a student of Amity University says, “If you pay the guards, they will let you park your vehicle wherever you want. Even if the parking lot is full, they will manage somewhere — one just needs to pay a hundred bucks.”

With no student unions or outfit to address the grievances of students, it comes down to the individual to fight back and proclaim victory on the battleground. In Amity, an atmosphere of toxic masculinity prevails, which has led to suicides by students in the hostel and violent acts.

Explaining this phenomenon, Rahul, an alumnus of Amity University, says, “The gym culture is now customary on campus, and it reflects toxic masculinity. Taking a cue from Bollywood flicks like Kabir Singh, the muscular body is being used as a protective shield against any incident”.

Rahul also elaborates, “The rich brat culture flourishes with impunity. In some cases, if not all, a student accused of a crime will get away easily. It perpetuates the undercurrent of violence.”

He adds, “Most of the cases remain unreported. It’s the social and mainstream media which brings some to light, otherwise they get buried inside the walls of the university.”

In the recent incident on August 28 that caused a storm on social media, a scuffle erupted outside the campus near Gate No. 3 between two boys (Madhav and Harsh) and a girl over parking space. This took a violent turn when an alleged mob of around 25 boys beat up the two guys just outside the campus – though some claim that it also happened inside. A part of the incident was captured on camera and the video went viral on social media. Several hashtags started trending on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The police swung into action only after the incident started trending; two cross-FIRs were registered in the matter. The social media outrage led to change in the narrative and the burden of proof came upon the girl. But she alleged in her FIR that she was “molested at the gate by Harsh Yadav.” The allegation shocked everyone, with students having their own take on the truth.

Abhishek, a student of law faculty, says, “This has been happening in Amity and it’s not new — just that the two boys were beaten up and the issue got reflected in social and mainstream media. Parking has been a problem — you pay the guards and your car will get parked right in in front of the gate.”

Elaborating on the incident, Abhishek says, “If a girl is alone and gets into an argument with 2-3 boys, one can imagine what sort of conversation will take place. Everything would have happened in the heat of the moment. The mistake seems to be from both sides but it’s quite hard to say who is right and who is wrong. But getting together a mob to beat up the boys is not justifiable at all.”

The Station House Officer at the Sector 39 police station Neeraj Malik told Patriot: “We have registered two FIRs, one from Harsh and the other from the girl. We are examining the CCTV footage of the area and action will be taken after conclusive evidence.” Three students, namely Mayank, Chetan and Shiv have been arrested. “They were arrested from near a police station at around 7 pm. The fourth accused who was named in the FIR has not been found. Efforts are on to identify the right person.”

In his complaint to the police, Harsh wrote, “It was around 2.30 p.m. I was in my i20 car and was looking to park it while a girl in her Ford Endeavour came that way. She parked her SUV in the middle of the road and when I asked her to move, she started arguing with me. I parked my vehicle elsewhere and then when I confronted her again, she started abusing and threatening me, after which the argument escalated.”

Responding to the incident, the university has said, “We found out about the incident from different sources. A proctorial committee will be formed and the matter will be investigated thoroughly.”

The matter is also being heard in the court of social media, where fake news has also started to spread abut Madhav, who was admitted to the ICU after receiving injuries. Somebody posted, “He is dead and it’s due to feminism.” The claim was fake as the boy was discharged after treatment.

When Patriot contacted filmmaker and independent journalist Deepika Bhardwaj who covered the incident, she said, “While hooliganism is definitely a point worth worry, I think cross-FIRs using women-centric laws are a bigger worry. Nothing has happened to the girl in the midst of all this, because she filed a molestation case.”

Bhardwaj adds, “I am glad that the boys got arrested but the girl was an equal partner to the crime and it’s sad she’s getting away.”

Hashtags that trended on Twitter during the scuffle in Amity: #amityuniversity #justiceformadhav #justiceforharsh