STUDENTS OF several paying guest accommodations across Chandigarh have complained of being thrown out days after a fire incident in a Sector 32 PG had claimed the lives of three girls.
In days leading up to legal notices being served along with several raids and checks being conducted across the city by administration officials, the owners of a number of paying guest facilities in attempt to save themselves have shown the door to hundreds of PG dwellers overnight.
Megha, 21, studying at SD college and earlier residing in Sector 32, has been visiting several PGs for three days now after her PG owner received a legal notice on February 24 and gave them time until February 27 to vacate the premises with all their stuff. “I have not attended college for the past three days and have been busy in finding a place to live. I have even visited houses in Sector 15 but have not yet found anything. I think I will have to go home for the time being,” she said.
This crackdown on PGs has led to various girls as well as boys to become homeless overnight. Khushpinder, 25, studying at Khalsa, is pursuing his Master’s in economy and had been residing in a two-room set in Sector 19-B for sometime now. He said, “There were seven of us living in two separate two-room sets on a single floor. It was two days back that we were suddenly asked to vacate the house by Thursday. We looked for PGs as well as flats, but found nothing and nobody is letting their house right now. We do not know where to go and what to do. We had not even signed any rent agreement with the owner and thus have no documents to get her to let us stay or prove anything.”
Cases have also come to light in which owners of paying guest accommodations have asked their residents not to come home for a day or two. “At least four girls have shifted into our flat since yesterday as their PG owners have asked them to stay away for two days till raids are conducted at their homes. They have been asked to come back then,” said Arpana, who shares a rental flat in Mohali with three others.
PG residents of Sector 15 have also been told by their owners to tell the authorities that they have “rental agreements” with them. “All the 16 students of my PG have been asked to tell the authourities that we have rented rooms and are not living on PG basis,” said a girl, residing in Sector 15-A.
The students claim their lives have been disrupted due to this sudden jolt of conscience in the authorities. “Instead of taking sane decisions and regularising PGs in a manner that does not wreak havoc on the lives of thousands of students that have come to study here, the administration has scared the owners of PGs into throwing us out. Where are we supposed to go? Will they keep us in their homes?” asked Gurkirat, who lived in a PG in Sector 15 and has now taken shelter in her friend’s house for a while.
There also exists a huge gap between the number of hostel seats available as compared to the number of students that pour in. While as many as 26,000 students are enrolled in Chandigarh University, its hostels can only accommodate 19,000 of them. The same goes with Panjab University, where more than 17,000 students are enrolled at a time. Hostel seats only amount to 6,500, making neighbouring sectors the heart of PGs.
House owner arrested
Four days after three girls in a paying guest accommodation in Chandigarh were burnt alive, the Chandigarh Police arrested the owner of the house, Gaurav Aneja, in the matter.
The accused was arrested a day after he moved an anticipatory bail plea in the court. Earlier, the police arrested Nitesh Bansal, the PG runner in the case, while accused Nitish Popli is yet to be arrested. —ENS
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