Pinjra Tod, which is a movement to secure non-discriminatory and affordable accommodation for women students, recently reported a case of fraud and harassment by a PG owner in Hudson Lines, North Campus, and the subsequent measures taken by the students of the PG.
The students of this women’s PG had been regularly facing harassment on several accounts, according to Pinjra Tod’s report. Rent agreements and receipts for rent paid were denied to them. The agreement initially had been for 11 months, after which the landlord was to reimburse the security deposit. Later, when the students were due to return home after their semester examinations, he began to insist that they stay for 12-13 months to receive reimbursement, else they would lose their deposit. Further, the students were forced to pay inflated electricity bills. Suspecting fraud, the students had turned off all electrical equipment to find that inspite of no use of electricity, the meters continued to run. The landlord and his family would also enter rooms and taunt or abuse the women.
Due to continued threat, abuse and harassment, 9 students of the PG filed a complaint with the police, after which the landlord called their parents up, accusing the women of ‘smoking’ and ‘drinking.’
A confrontation at the Mukherjee Nagar Police Station resulted in a victory for the women. The landlord had to return the security deposit to all 9 students, and the students have registered a complaint with the NDPL, refusing to pay the inflated electricity bills.
“This kind of harassment is very rampant throughout Delhi,” says Subhashini Shriya of Pinjra Tod. “Due to dependency of the students on the PG owner and vulnerability of the students, combined with misinformation by the PG owner to parents, students find it difficult to come out with such cases.” On the reaction of the authorities to Pinjra Tod’s demand for regularisation of PGs, Subhashini says, “DU administration says that since these are private accommodations, it is beyond the scope of their authority. There are several PGs that are not registered with the police and most PGs give no receipt on receiving rent. Neither the university nor the police has taken this up.”
Pinjra Tod has decided to prepare a blacklist of PGs based on information given in by students on cases of sexual harassment, interference of the landlord, receipt for rent paid and rent agreements. “When students seek accommodation in PGs, they must have a better understanding of the comfort and security of these places. The blacklist will serve this purpose,” says Subhashini.
Pinjra Tod is also working towards ensuring that the University implements a standardisation of rules and rents in this regard. “We would like to set in place a system where students should be able to approach the university for redressal of such grievances,” says Subhashini.
Image credits: Pinjra Tod