Unlock DU: Outstation students locked out of hostels, protest when denied re-entry
About 25 Delhi University (DU) students, who are residents of Mata Kasturba Gandhi Girls Hostel in North Campus, have been protesting against their eviction from the hostel since September 1. “In the context of Covid-19 , everyone had left for their homes, leaving behind their belongings in the hostel. Now the lockdown has been lifted during Unlock 4.0 and inter- and intra-state movement is allowed. So, students came back to the hostel to give their entrance exams, as they were facing network issues while attending online classes at home. When we reached here, we were denied entry into the hostel premises, despite the fact that our belongings are locked in the rooms inside,” says Priyanka Kashyap, a student of faculty of law, DU. Kashyap, along with four other student residents, spent the night outside the hostel, sitting in protest.
The students claim that no official notice was given to them for vacating the hostel. “Our warden asked us to vacate by paying all the dues till date in one go and that, too, without any written notice. She said that committee members have decided not to run the hostel any further and renovate it in the near future, without even informing us with a written notice, as we are existing residents of this hostel. Considering the fact that we have no other place to go and our incapability to pay the dues for several months in one go, we protested against their decision. How can we move out our stuff when we don’t have anywhere to go? Asking us to vacate in this pandemic without giving any prior written notice is not done,” rues Anuradha Kaushal, a Miranda House student.
The students have had to shift their protest from outside the hostel to digital mediums. “Now that they have deployed police in the hostel campus, we can’t protest over there. So, we have resorted to protesting virtually through Twitter, Facebook and other platforms,” says Sandra Mariya, a student of Ramjas college.
Troubled by the situation, the ousted hostellers are looking for a solution. “We are seeking legal advice as to what can be done. We have taken shelter in our friend’s home, for now. We have been residents of this hostel since many years, and it’s very disheartening that we get such treatment at one of our most vulnerable time,” says Sabithri PK, a Hindu College student.
The hostel authorities deny all allegations and are vague on whether they are planning to shut the hostel for good. “The hostel is shut, but we don’t have any update from the committee members about when and if the hostel will be open again or will be permanently shut. These students came in the hostel and tried to break the gate’s lock. How can we allow anyone to enter the premises if the hostel is entirely shut? Amid the pandemic, if something happens to the students we allow in, who will take the responsibility? We haven’t taken any decision regarding when we will re-open and we await government guidelines,” says Rossamma Joby, warden of the hostel.
Author tweets @FizzyBuddha