A group of students at Jawaharlal Nehru University have alleged that they were stopped from performing a prayer ceremony inside a hostel room by the warden due to ‘political reasons’. The university, however, maintained that the prayers could have led to a fire hazard on campus.
“It was my birthday and we were performing a puja inside my room. Suddenly, the warden came and stopped us from performing the prayer. He showed disrespect to our prayer material and hurt our religious sentiments,” said Jitendra, an MPhil student in Sanskrit Studies.
Jitendra, a resident of Jhelum hostel, said around 15-20 people had assembled in his room to perform the ritualistic prayers to celebrate his birthday. “I believe in my traditions and culture so wanted to perform a traditional puja. People target Hindus in this university,” he alleged.
However, university officials maintained that no prayer ceremony was stopped and the occupant of the room was issued a showcause notice because conducting a havan inside the hostel room could have been a potential fire hazard.
“By the time we reached the room, where the havan was being performed, the prayers were almost over. They took the havan kund in the balcony from the room. We told them to not do so inside a small hostel room, as it could lead to a fire accident. There are about 350 students who stay in the hostel. Any accident would harm all of them,” said Himanshu, one of the wardens of the hostel.
The students have sent a written complaint to the university vice chancellor alleging that the Jhelum hostel warden had on last Saturday asked a congregation to disperse from one of the rooms where they were performing a havan.
They have also alleged that the warden’s move was politically motivated to not allow prayers.