The members of the Right to Accommodation group were on an indefinite strike for 44 days outside Gate No. 1 of the Arts Faculty building in North Campus protesting against the lack of rent regulation and hostel accommodation for the students staying in and around Delhi University before ending the strike and beginning an indefinite hunger strike from 2nd October to try and change the unhelpful attitude of the concerned authorities. Members of the hunger strike include Praveen Singh (Convener of the Right to Accommodation group), Ajay Singh from Ramjas College, Sangam Kumar from CLC Faculty of Law and Balraj Yadav from Hindu College.
Why rent regulation?
Around 2,00,000 lakh students arrive at Delhi University every year and the university has a mere 6000 hostel seats to accommodate them. Students who do not get into a hostel have to live on rent which is fixed at around Rs. 8000 for rooms with attached bathrooms near the campus grounds with good facilities. For girls the same goes up to Rs. 15000 a month. Moreover they have strict restrictions. Girls cannot go out or stay out late even if they have work and the maximum time limit is 7 or 8 pm. Rent increases every year but the facilities remain the same. ” I am currently staying in a UG hostel. After our exams get over in May they make us vacate our rooms for June and July. There are students who have extra classes and coaching during the holidays. Where are they supposed to go? We cannot keep changing every year ” said one of the female participants in the hartal. The North East students are said to suffer the more in this case. A room rented out at Rs. 4000 to a North Indian will be given at Rs. 7000 to a student from the North East.
Some of the students travel a long distance everyday because the cost of staying within campus is too high. “I stay with my Nani and my aunt and uncle. They have only two rooms. So I try to study as much as possible in the college because it is not possible to do so at home,” said Sonia, a student from Hans Raj College.
ABVP’s take on the matter
ABVP had rent regulation and hostel accommodation on their list of agendas when they were contesting elections for the 2015-16 session. “After winning the elections we did not have a lot of time on our hands. We are currently engaged in three national level debates and all our programs have already been scheduled. However, after our engagements are over we plan to raise the questions again. Any association that would like to join us is welcome to do so,” says Satender Awana, current President of Delhi University Students’ Union when approached.
Praveen Singh has been working on this issue for three years. Although delegations have been sent to ministers like Arvind Kejriwal, Smriti Irani and Manish Sisodia, nobody has raised any concerns on the issue. “We are trying to get the Vice Chancellor’s attention on this because no action is possible without his assent. The issue of rent regulation is not one to be taken lightly and I urge every concerned individual out there to help and support us on the matter, ” the convener told us.
Here are some bytes from the first day of the hunger strike: