While the elections in Panjab University bring excitement and a flurry of activity for many,there are some who do not look forward to this time of the year.
For hundreds of occupants staying illegally in PU boys’ hostels,the elections only mean a constant threat of police raids,which either forces them to vacate the hostels until the elections are over,or resort to locking their rooms from the outside to avoid the raids.
According to estimates,at least a hundred occupants stay illegally in many boys’ hostels. The hostels near PU’s main entrance Hostel Number 1,2 and 3 house fewer illegal occupants while Hostels 4,5,6,and 7 are known to have hundreds of such occupants.
These occupants may be students of the university who did not get the hostels,students from other nearby colleges or friends of the hostellers. While some stay temporarily,there are others who stay on for months. I have a room outside,but I prefer to stay here most of the time because many of my friends stay here and the facilities in the hostel are unmatched, said one illegal occupant.
During elections,most of such occupants prefer to get their rooms locked from outside at night. The raids are usually conducted at 4 in the morning,and when the police come across locked doors,they are forced to move on to the next room. There are also many rooms which have an inter-lock,and therefore,the police can’t tell whether the room is locked from the inside or the outside.
While many such occupants vacate the hostels a few days before the elections because of the heavy police presence and constant raids. However,many other outsiders come in during this time to assist in the campaigning process.
Student parties are full of outsiders who generally stay in the hostels during the night. Most of them stay in large groups of five to ten people in a single room who get their rooms locked to evade detection, said a party worker.
The illegal occupants also try to register themselves as guests of the hostellers,which allows them to stay legitimately for three days,whenever the threat of a police raid is imminent. But this facility is temporarily suspended during the week of the elections.
Whenever the occupants are caught in the raids,they are generally produced in the police station and let go after verifying their identity. Also,a fine is imposed by the university on the hosteller hosting the outsider.
According to a hostel guard,there are at least 200 people residing illegally in the hostel. Many of them come and go,but at any given point of time,there are hundreds of them here. They vacate the hostel a week before elections and come back when they are over, he said.
Once the elections are over,we are as good as the actual hostellers, said another occupant.