Two days after he was booked for allegedly raping a second year nursing student of Parul University, its founder-president and trustee Jayesh Patel continued to evade arrest, sparking off political protests across party lines. Congress, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) on Monday submitted separate memoranda to Vadodara district collector Lochan Sehra, appealing for a strict action to ensure safety of women on educational campuses.
In its memorandum, PAAS condemned rape of the student “belonging to the Patidar community”, who was allegedly threatened by Patel with dire consequences if she revealed the incident to anyone.
It stated, “The incident of the rape of the victim belonging to the Patidar community unearthed the sins of Jayesh Patel. However, despite three days since the complaint, Patel is roaming free. This is because Patel has close ties with big ministers of the state government, and we are aware that he is being protected by a minister to elude arrest. They are constantly threatening this Patidar family (victim’s family) to dilute the case and it has caused great anger among the community. We demand immediate arrest of Patel, along with a thorough investigation into the previous incidents of students being subjected to harassment at Patel’s hands. It is a shame that a state that has a woman chief minister cannot track down and arrest a high-profile rape accused. The government must declare Parul University invalid and take complete control of its administration to ensure order.”
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Much on the lines of the Patidars, the RSS students’ wing, ABVP, urged the district collector to scrap the “internal marking system” in order to ensure that female students are not subjected to sexual exploitation by management of educational institutions. Maulik Desai of ABVP said, “The incident brings forth a serious need to scrap the internal marking system that allows the management to play with the future of students and blackmail them into such sexual exploitation incidents. The incident of Parul university in itself needs to be investigated to ensure that any other victim of the past also receive justice.”
Congress’s women wing led by Ami Ravat urged Sehra to ensure safety of women by ensuring the arrest of Patel as well as the attacker of a woman police constable attached to the traffic police, who suffered injuries in an acid attack on Friday evening.
In a letter to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, Congress MLA from Viramgam demanded stern action against Patel.
“The Patidar chief minister ought to initiate appropriate action in the matter to ensure that the accused in the case do not get protection and women are safe on educational campuses,” the MLA said. She further said the student mustered courage to file a complaint against the trustee wihout bothering about the social stigma attached with the incident.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders, including Waghodia MLA Madhu Shrivastav, joined a bandh called by sarpanch Vikram Solanki to protest the rape incident. Patel (66) was suspended from the primary membership of BJP on Sunday.
Shrivastav said, “This is a very shameful act in an education hub. We want quick investigation into the case. We will go on a hunger strike and also force all education institution to join a bandh, if Patel is not arrested. I appreciate the courage of the girl who filed complaint and brought out the truth. I want to assure all the girls who are silently suffering such harassment in education institutes that I will fight for them and support them if you will file complaint.” The MLA also announced his phone number so that any student facing sexual harassment could approach him for help.
Waghodia police, who had arrested co-accused and hostel rector Bhavna Chauhan on Sunday evening, sought her remand from a local court for further investigation. She has been sent to a five-day police remand.
Police officials said, “We have recorded Bhavna’s initial statement in which she has confessed that she had indeed taken the girl to Patel’s quarters on campus at his insistence. She has corroborated the events that occurred before Patel asked her to leave the girl with him. We are probing if Bhavna was aware of any previous incidents of rape and sexual harassment at the hands of Patel. We have also recorded the statements of other girls from the university. They have supported the victim’s allegations.”
Reports suggested Patel has resigned from the post of the president from Parul University, although the admission procedure for all courses continued as per the schedule.