On August 20, Praveen Singh, an alumnus of Delhi University, started an indefinite dharna outside the Arts Faculty in North Campus for affordable rent and accommodation for all. Saturday marked 100 days of the protest by Singh and DU students backing him. All this while they stayed put at one spot, but have decided to shift their protest to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s doorstep.
“We have received nothing but apathy from the university administration in the last 100 days. While some of our demands are directed at the Delhi government, there are several on which the university can take action. Forget finding a solution, the vice-chancellor did not even give a public statement saying that our concerns are valid. Now, we’ve decided to shift to the CM’s residence for an indefinite hunger strike on Sunday,” said Singh, convenor of the ‘Right to Accommodation Movement’.
The protesters have been demanding the implementation of Section 33 of the Delhi University Act, 1922, which says, “Every student of the University shall reside in a College or a Hall, or under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Ordinances” and also the Delhi Rent Control Act, along with affordable canteens on the campus. Singh said the decision to take the protest to the CM’s residence was taken after continuous attempts to seek a dialogue with him failed. “It is not a sudden decision to shift focus to him. In June, around 150 students had sent letters to him. The last letter on which we got a receiving from the CMO was just 15 days ago, but there has been no response. Since the implementation of the Delhi Rent Control Act is in the state government’s hand, this is the logical next step,” he said.
Singh’s fight started in 2013, when he was an MA student of DU. “I was living in a 6×6 feet room. I paid Rs 4,000 for a place in which I couldn’t even stretch my legs properly. That’s when I decided that something had to be done. I’m no longer a student but my fight continues because I think it’s my duty to complete what I began. Otherwise, people will lose confidence in the politics of trust.” Singh added he was planning to enroll himself in DU’s Law Faculty next year.
Singh met Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken Saturday. “He made us aware of the details of the Delhi Rent Control Act. He offered his support to us and told us that he will visit the protest site once we shift,” said Singh.