The flare-up between the Delhi University authorities and residents of the University Hostel for Women is yet to be settled two months after it erupted.
The students, who have been protesting the alleged highhandedness of the authorities during the hostel union elections, are now alleging victimisation and discrimination.
“The students who had raised their voices against the union elections are being singled out and harassed. I had called a meeting of students which was termed illegal. The boycott of dinner by students was also said to be illegal and I have been issued notices for this,” Maya John, a PhD scholar heading the protests, said.
Students also allege that their parents have not been spared. “The authorities are calling up parents and telling them that we are unruly and undisciplined. When the parents showed trust in us, they started calling up our supervisors,” Neethu Sunny, an MPhil student, said.
The protests in the hostel broke out in January when hostel authorities specified that residents with five or more memos (warnings) couldn’t contest elections. Following protests, the authorities postponed the elections and sent the students’ suggestions to the university’s legal advisor.
“The attitude of the university authorities has been getting more threatening. MPhil students who get an extension for their research are usually allowed an extended stay in the hostel. But this year, they did not give the extension despite letters from our supervisors. After several arguments, they gave in but changed the terms. Students with an extension will now have to pay around R1,500 more per month in hostel fees,” Sana Nomani, another MPhil student, said.
The authorities, however, maintain that they are not victimising any one. “We are just following the rule book. These students are like our children and we are responsible for them. If they can't follow the rules, we suggest that they live in flats. We are only trying to be responsible,” said Usha Rao, proctor and chairperson of the hostel.