Two months into their MPhil course at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and still without a hostel, two OBC students have been living in a makeshift tent outside the administrative block for the last five days as a mark of protest. While the administration has asked them to vacate the space calling it “unlawful”, the students say they cannot afford private accommodation.
Omprakash Mahato and Karthik Raja — MPhil students of political science — had joined the university as MA students, however, their respective hostels were withdrawn once they completed the course. Without a place to stay after their re-admission, they started residing on the terrace of the Mahi-Mandavi Hostel but were asked to leave.
Speaking about the matter, JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said, “We have more students than hostels right now, and we cannot create more hostels without taking clearances since this is a ridge area. The demands students are making, like giving them HRA, are unethical. This pitching of tents is illegal and we have issued notices to them.”
They put forward their problem in an all organisation meeting, where it was decided unanimously by all student groups that they would pitch a tent outside the Administrative Block and reside there till their demands were met. Since then, several students have joined them in solidarity.
“It has come to the notice of the administration that you had illegally occupied the terrace of the Mahi-Mandavi Hostel and were instructed by the hostel warden to vacate it. When you met the Dean of Students on September 16, you were advised not to indulge in any such activities and apply for second and third roommate category. Instead of heeding to this advice, you have pitched tents in front of the administrative building since the night of September 16. This is unlawful and against the ruling of the Honourable Supreme Court. You are thus instructed to immediately remove your tents pitched in front of the administration building,” read the notice sent by the chief proctor to Mahato on September 17. Another notice was sent asking Mahato to appear before the Chief Proctor on Tuesday, pending an enquiry against him.
The matter has been taken up by the JNU Students’ Union which is demanding that students be provided accommodation or given HRA so that they can look for accommodation outside.