30th October, 2018, became a historically significant day for the Miranda House Girls’ Hostel, as the Hostel gates stayed open into the dawn, as the students protested outside. To celebrate the completion of one year to this day, and mandate authoritative action to allow the hostellers more liberty, another sit-in was organised by the Miranda House Girls’ Hostel residents.
The protest was led by Pinjra Tod, a student’s collective that works for secure, affordable and non-gender discriminatory accommodation for women across Delhi.
The events of the said night happened in this chronological order:
Activists of ‘Pinjra Tod: Break the Hostel Locks’ called for a protest outside the gates of Arts Faculty, Delhi University, on the night of October 30th, demanding that the Miranda House hostel curfew be rolled back completely. Earlier, on October 8th and 10th, Pinjra Tod had organised protest marches and all-night sit-ins in North Campus, Delhi University.
Previously, on October 10th, the activists of Pinjra Tod had given the deadline of October 30th to the University administration to accept all their demands. The Principal of Miranda House, Pratibha Jolly had talked to the protesters and listened to their demands, giving the assurance that the issues would be discussed by the administration, and appropriate measures would be taken.
Ishika, participant at the protest, a Miranda House student told DU Beat, “The protest began very calmly, there was no aggression or violence. The hostel committee and the principal cooperated well with us, and when demands were put forward, they agreed to all.”
Pratibha Jolly, Principal of Miranda House, in reply to Pinjra Tod said, “As a constituent college of University of Delhi we have been discussing the issue at the highest level.”
However, most of the demands were not met. The hostel curfew was extended from 8:30 PM to 9 PM only, with a few extra night-outs added and number of leaves increased.
The college had put up notices stating that “due information must be given to the Hostel Administrative Staff before Night Out is availed. This must be duly recorded in the Leave Book.”
An informal WhatsApp message had been circulated, which stated that the late-night timings will remain the same, and night leaves will be sanctioned on the same day only in case of emergency.
The student collective Pinjra Tod termed the extension of 30 minutes for hostels as a “joke” and demanded complete abolition of curfew timing at Miranda House.
Pinjra Tod said, “This extension of half an hour is a cruel joke, another attempt at humiliating and infantilising the dignity, dreams and struggles of women students.”
The true reason for an intensified reaction to these rigorous hostel curfews was allegedly that the college had put up notices stating, “Residents can return to the hostel at any time of the night on a night-out and short-notice/ emergency night-outs can be availed by filling in a form at the gate and (there) is no need (for) one day advance notice,” which was far from the reality.
Following the student’s protest, the students in defiance organised a sit-in that continued all night. The students protested outside the hostel gate and the gates of the hostel remained open.
The agitators said, “These new changes are important relaxations in the existing rules, but we really refuse to get dragged into this bureaucratic non-sense, which continues to reinforce power in the hands of the administration.”
The series of protest led by Pinjra Tod, paves way for new meaning of freedom for many hostellers.
Feature Image Credits: News Ink