It was a rainy morning in New Delhi.
I was wearing a hoodie, a T-shirt and jeans.
I had just walked up to my hostel and had a coffee.
I asked my host to send me a message on WhatsApp.
I wanted to find my friend.
I would not meet him in person for about six months.
I did not know what was going on.
My friend was a PhD student at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Hyderabad, but we had not met in person.
I decided to ask him on WhatsApp to see if I could meet him at his office in the city.
A few hours later, I received a message from my friend’s mobile phone.
“Hello, I’m looking for you.
You can call me anytime anytime.
You are free to come and see me.
If you do not get any response, please do not be alarmed.
I will get back to you,” the message read.
The message did not include any phone number or a picture.
But a couple of days later, my friend received a call from his office.
The caller ID had changed.
It was an assistant professor at NIT.
The assistant professor asked my friend to return to his room.
The professor told my friend that he would call me on the next day and that I should return the phone call number.
The phone call was for a private conference.
I said no, but I could not deny him.
The call was scheduled for a meeting of the international conference of researchers on gender equality.
The next day, the assistant professor sent a letter to the university dean to ask the students to attend the conference, which was taking place in New York City.
The university dean did not reply.
The email from the assistant was soon sent to all students in the NIT, asking them to attend a conference that was not open to women and which was closed to all male students.
The associate professor sent another letter to all NIT faculty members asking them not to invite women to the conference.
“It is important to highlight that this is not the first time that this kind of harassment has been happening in the Indian universities,” said Sajjan Kumar, a doctoral student at Niti Aayog.
Kumar told Al Jazeera that he was not surprised by the university’s response to the assistant’s letter.
“There is a lot of pressure on women and men in India to conform to gender norms,” he said.
“And it has been a few years since we have had such an event.
So, there is no longer any space for people to question gender norms.”
Al Jazeera has contacted the university, the university vice chancellor, the dean of NIT and the dean and vice president of the Niti Bhanot.
“We will look into this and look into the issues raised,” Niti Kaul told Al Jazira.
He said the university was looking into the matter.
“The University of Hyderabad has taken swift action against this kind, sexist behaviour.
We have identified the accused in question and are investigating the matter,” the university said in a statement.
The letter to students from the Nirmal Vakil, a professor of computer science at NITT, told them that the assistant had been removed from his position and that he should not have been allowed to attend.
“I am shocked that the university administration is making this decision, considering that this was a woman-centric event and that the women and girls from the country had to attend it.
And that the only reason for the administration not inviting the woman is because they do not think she is ready for the event,” he told AlJazira, who is also a student of the university.
“As a student, I was very worried about the conference being open to men,” said Pramod Tiwari, a junior in the college.
“But now I am afraid that the same thing is happening to women.
We are being threatened to attend conferences we are not interested in.
We don’t feel safe and feel unsafe in the society,” said Vakili.
“Even though I am not a woman, I feel like I have been harassed.
I have felt unsafe for two months now,” she added.
“They are trying to force us to conform.
They are forcing us to look like a woman,” said another junior.
A group of students took to the streets of Hyderabadi to protest against the administration’s decision to cancel the conference due to the harassment and intimidation of women.
In a WhatsApp conversation, a woman student at a university in Gujarat, who did not want to be identified, said she had been a participant in the conference at the invitation of the assistant.
“He [the assistant] told us that we should not go to the event and to not attend it,” the woman student said.
She added that she was angry that she had to stay in her dormitory and not go out to a conference she did not feel comfortable at. The