A block of 376 flats in Mukherjee Nagar, a neighbourhood flanking Delhi University’s north campus, has decided to shut its doors on outstation students.
“No student tenants are allowed here,” reads a poster at the main gate of Mukherjee Apartments.
A circular put up by the residents’ welfare association on July 26 goes into the reasons. “There are many problems because of student tenants like visits by uncountable and unwanted people, which have raised security concerns... Social norms are being violated, which is leaving bad influence on children,” the directive states.
A professor from Ramjas College, who lived in the apartment block and later moved out, said such rules end up discriminating against students from certain regions and financial background.
“These are government-built residential areas but they are treating students as criminals. There are inherent biases against outstation students due to which there is reluctance to keep them as tenants,” said assistant professor Ranjak Katara.
Mukherjee Nagar is a popular abode for Delhi University students as well as those preparing for competitive exams for renting rooms and apartments. A majority of the students here don’t belong to Delhi.
Almost half the students applying to DU are from outside Delhi. But there are only 3,455 hostel seats for the 1.6 lakh students enrolled in undergraduate courses. This forces most outstation students to live in rented accommodation.
Chinglen Khumukcham, convener of the North East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS), said students from outside Delhi face many problems in renting flats.
“We are often told that our culture and eating habits are very different and therefore, we don’t fit in. Some house owners say that directly, others cite flimsy reasons. Mukherjee Nagar is not the only area where we face problems,” he says. Khumukcham, a postgraduate from Hansraj College lives in Malka Ganj.
However, an open directive like the one issued by Mukherjee Apartment’s welfare association is unusual.
Alok Kumar Ranjan, the president of the MARA says the decision to not give flats to students was taken in consensus with other residents. “We did not decide this unilaterally,” he says.
“There are many flat owners who don’t live here. They rent out their flats to students without police verification. This is a serious security issue. I know so many other residential societies which have similar rules. So why single us out,” he says.