Several students of Jawaharlal Nehru University have alleged that Sutlej Hostel allegedly stopped food for over 200 hostelers after they were not able to pay the mess bill, allegedly because they have not been given their fellowship money. However, following protests, students have been given reprieve till April 30.
Students have alleged that they have not been getting their non-NET (national eligibility test) fellowship — Rs 5,000 for MPhil scholars and Rs 8,000 for PhD scholars — or their Merit-Cum-Means scholarship — Rs 10,000 per semester for BA and MA students from financially poor backgrounds — since January this year.
According to hostel president Piyush Ranjan, food was stopped for as many as 227 students of the total 341 occupants. Two notices by the hostel wardens also mentioned this. One, dated March 31 and signed by mess warden Arnab Bhattacharya, read, “You are once again directed to clear your outstanding dues latest by April 3, failing which food will be stopped strictly from April 4 morning without any further notice.”
Another, dated April 4, signed by Bhattacharya as well as by the senior warden, said the deadline has been extended to 4 pm on April 6. “Any defaulter will not be allowed to take food from April 7 morning and onwards,” it read.
“We have not been getting our fellowship and the hostel administration stopped food for many students. So, residents of the hostel boycotted food and took their utensils to the Dean of Students’ office in protest. They have agreed that mess bills for January and February can be paid till April 30, but that will only help if fellowships reach students by then,” Ranjan said.
Calls and messages to the Dean of Students went unanswered.
Pritam Gupta, one of the students whose food was stopped, said he hasn’t been able to pay his bill because he wasn’t getting his non-NET fellowship. “I don’t take money from home, so the fellowship money is crucial to pay bills. I used to hold tuitions to make money, but I have been working on my synopsis for the last few months and have had no time for that. I had applied for the fellowship in February but am yet to receive it,” he said.
Another student, Ravi Bharti, said most students who get fellowship use it to pay their bills. “We get Rs 5,000 per month. The mess bill comes about Rs 2,500-2,800. So we pay with that. The money I get from home is nominal so the fellowship money is our lifeline,” he said.
The JNU Students’ Union Monday protested against the administration on the issue.
“It is the responsibility of the administration to ensure the scholarship for the students. Both UGC and JNU administration have to stop this fund cutting of the student community and provide them the fellowship,” said JNUSU general secretary Satarupa Chakraborty.