Meghdoot Hostel


The residents of Meghdoot Hostel have expressed dismay upon their living conditions and have alleged that various arbitrary decisions have been taken by the authorities. The accusations have mostly been levelled against the former provost of the Hostel, Dr Pratibha Mehta Luthra, who has reportedly recently retired from her Hostel duties.  

Meghdoot Hostel is one of the two University hostels for women in North Campus. It primarily admits masters and PhD students. It has been reported that after the pandemic, quite a few hostels were not well equipped to take in fresh students. In Meghdoot Hostel most students were admitted as guest residents and were asked to pay a higher fee. It has been alleged that there was complete lack of transparency in the admission process. The basis on which students were admitted into the hostel is unclear and whether university guidelines were followed is in question. Reportedly, a disproportionately high number of science students, particularly students from Dr B.R. Ambedkar Center for Biomedical Research – the institution in which the former provost is a faculty member-were given permanent seats.

Students who were not given a permanent seat were asked to vacate on a short notice. Those who were about to complete their courses requested for brief extensions so that they could be allowed to stay at the hostel until the completion of their courses. Most of these requests were denied. Asking students to vacate their rooms on a short notice caused immense disruption as many of them did not have any other place to stay.

“My dissertation submission was on the 15th of June. I simply needed a 15-day extension. My application for extension was approved by the Department Head as well. Yet, the provost denied me an extension and refused to listen to my concerns” – a former resident of the hostel who wishes to remain anonymous

The former provost had reportedly undertaken the task of establishing a Saraswati idol in the Hostel premises. While the hostel often fell short of ensuring basic necessities for the residents, it was alleged that a considerable amount of the funds was spent in the establishment and maintenance of the idol. Multiple Hindu religious events such as havans and pujas were organised and it has been alleged that the students were coerced to participant in them. However, this has been refuted by a resident who stated that although religious gatherings and events were organised, attending them was a matter of choice. After the establishment of the idol, the hostel authorities stopped non-vegetarian food from being served in the mess. When this decision was met with complaints, the provost reportedly reasoned that non-vegetarian food cannot possibly be allowed in the hostel premises as the piety of the space had to be maintained due to the presence of the idol.

“We were repeatedly asked to participate in the events organised by the hostel. We were told that non participation in these events would affect our applications for permanents seats. Women from all over the country, from diverse cultures and different faiths, reside in our hostel. They were all asked to attend havans early in the morning. The prejudice that the provost had was very evident. – a resident of Meghdoot hostel who requested to remain anonymous

DU Beat contacted the members of the managing committee and the former provost to respond to the allegations.

“Thank you for kindly communicating with me on the matter. I held a meeting with the students on 2nd June 2023 in the matter. The response from them has been communicated to the management committee. Everything has been done as per rule and based on the request from the students.”  – Dr Pratibha Mehta Luthra, Provost, Meghdoot Hostel

Reportedly a new provost has been appointed to the hostel. The students hope that their concerns are taken care of with greater sincerity in future.

Featured image credits: Joon Square

Read also – https://dubeat.com/2023/04/30/lsr-hostel-student-suffers-injuries-after-ceiling-collapse/

DU Beat

As the University of Delhi rounds up with this year’s fest season and amidst a political ambivalence in the campus, the ideals of safety have been fervently debated by those within and outside the ambit of concern. The festival of colours which is often diversified into forcefully putting all sorts of elements on other people is often misused to sexually harass women, and under a garb of festivities, their safety is breached. However, instead of addressing the source of the problem directly, two girl hostels in the campus have decided to do what the nation does best: locking up women, emotionally and physically.

The International Student House for Women (ISHW) which comes under the purview of the University of Delhi issued a notice which stated:

“Holi is a festival of colours. To make it enjoyable for all of us, following decisions have been taken in the interest of residents. Residents and female guests will not be allowed to leave or enter the premises from 9 pm on March 12 till 6 pm on March 13. No late-night permission will be granted on March 12 and those desirous of playing Holi should go outside the residential block within the hostel premises.”

The Meghdoot Hostel also accompanied the above ideology, with a notice which said that “the main gate will remain closed from 6 am to 5:30 pm on March 13” and that all students were prohibited from consuming “any narcotic drugs in form of thandai.” It added that the students must not return to the hostel late in the evening on March 12.

The decision has been cited by the authorities as an “arbitrary move” to ensure “the best interest of the residents.” However, female students who had already been facing constraints with regards to time restrictions and other policies, are enraged with this unfair imposition. Far from addressing the issue and working on ways to solve the matter, the solution once again lies in the confinement of women to avoid the injustice of sexual harassment. The rhetoric of safety has been mobilised by housing authorities to consciously bar women from celebrating a festival, instead of strengthening ways to ensure their protection during this period. “Honestly, I avoid going out around the time of Holi and the day itself anyway.  It is extremely annoying and unsafe since people take the liberty of doing anything to you under the garb of Holi. The hostel thing makes some sense, since it in some ways acts on the same anxiety. But like I said, even without the circular which reiterated that I shouldn’t go out, I was in my right minds not to. So really, why do they leash us like we need it? If they insist on restricting our movement on the day of Holi, how about they lock the men up too?” said a hostel resident about the curfew.

Advocating along similar lines and fighting against the discriminatory rules and regulations in university hostels for girls, Pinjra Tod has been an active voice in raising concerns of hundreds of the residents. On speaking to a national daily about this diktat, they remarked, “The rise in sexual violence and harassment that women experience on the streets around Holi is barely addressed and instead once again, women are locked up for their ‘own safety’ and arbitrary restrictions are imposed on their mobility.”

Image Credits: Asian Age


Saumya Kalia

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