On the evening of 23rd April’16, the women residents of Undergraduate Hostel for Girls (UGHG) in Delhi University took to the streets in protest against the severe water crisis that they had been facing in the hostel for almost two months leading to unbearable living conditions and water-borne illnesses. The hostel administration led by the Provost Rita Kakkar had refused to respond or meet the protesting students. Thus, the women broke their hostel curfew and marched to the provost’s residence demanding action. The Provost finally met the students around midnight, after Kapil Mishra, Delhi Government Water Minister, arrived at the protest venue and termed the negligence on part of the hostel authorities as ‘inhuman’. In the negotiations that followed in writing by the DU Administration, clauses that no individual student would be targeted for participating in the protest and, no resident would be denied a hostel seat the next year for the same were added. However, in contrary to this, the hostel administration started witch-hunting of women students identified as ‘ring-leaders’ of the protest.
Parents of several UGHG residents received letters stating “your daughter left the hostel on 23rd April, 2016 at around 5pm and returned around 2.30am on 24th April, 2016 without obtaining prior permission from the hostel authorities”. The letter further alleged that their daughter’s behaviour “has a bad impact on other residents and brings a bad reputation to the hostel”.
Further, exorbitant fines have been levied against financially weak students for late payment of fees. The hostel authorities also sent these notices to the college administrations asking them to confiscate the students’ admit cards.
“I’m furious at the college hostel administration. They had sent the notice without duly informing me. I felt mentally harassed at that time. I had to run between offices to get my admit card as they made wait for hours to give me the fee receipt. It was trying time for me and family, my parents understood the situation but I can’t say the same for the parents of other students,” said a UGHG resident on anonymity.
Pinjra Tod condemning this act of witch-hunting held a protest outside the DU VC office on 23rd May, Monday, at 1:00 PM to submit their demands – to revoke the issued letters, no further vindictive targeting of students involved in 23rd April protest and removal of Rita Kakkar, Provost from her post.
Moreover, Pinjra Tod will be writing to the Vice Chancellor and Proctor of Delhi University, Kapil Mishra, Delhi Government Water Minister and Swati Maliwal, Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson to lodge a complaint about this issue.
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