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As students start returning to the capital, many arrive at hostels with shuttered doors

The latest notice issued by the hostel, run by Harijan Sevak Sangh, on September 4 reads: “The Harijan Sevak Sangh has decided that since the number of corona cases is rising, the hostel will remain closed.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi | Updated: September 10, 2020 9:44:26 am
Residents outside the locked Mata Kasturba Girls Hostel

With academic activities gathering steam, students who had gone back to their home states during the lockdown are slowly trickling back to Delhi, but many are finding it hard to get accommodation. In September, a whole range of entrance, competitive and university exams have started kicking off. In one incident, a group of residents of Mata Kasturba Girls Hostel in Kingsway Camp turned up in Delhi on September 1 to find that the hostel continues to remain closed.

The latest notice issued by the hostel, run by Harijan Sevak Sangh, on September 4 reads: “The Harijan Sevak Sangh has decided that since the number of corona cases is rising, the hostel will remain closed. Whenever the executive committee makes the decision to re-open the hostel, you will be notified.”

Sushmita Janghel, who used to stay at the hostel and returned from her hometown in Chhattisgarh, is doing her M.Com from Indira Gandhi National Open University and has a range of competitive exams lined up starting September. “I have my RRB PO exam, IBPS PO exam, SBI Mains exam, IBPS clerk exam. We haven’t been issued admit cards yet but I didn’t want to rush at the last minute. I had applied from Delhi, with the hostel as my address, so my allotted centres are going to be close to here,” she said. She is now sharing a room with her friend who lives in a paying guest accommodation in Mukherjee Nagar.

Another woman resident, Priyanka Kashyap, is a student at Delhi University’s Faculty of Law and said that she came to Delhi to be able to better access her online classes. “My online classes for the new semester began on August 27 but I kept having connectivity issues in my town in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district. I had also left my laptop behind when I had gone home for the Holi break. I found it really hard to access and read any study material without it,” she said. She too is staying with friends at Nirankari Colony now.

While the JNU students’ union has started demanding that the university allow phased return of students to the campus, Delhi University hostels continue to remain closed to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and are only open for phased re-entry of Ph.D students on recommendation of their research supervisors. However, college principals said that students who will be coming to Delhi for the second phase of DU open book examination may apply for hostel accommodation.

“If our students are coming to Delhi for their OBE, they may submit a formal request to the college and we will accommodate them in the hostel. We are sanitising the hostel regularly but we have not received any request so far. This provision is only for final year OBE students,” said Hans Raj College principal Rama Sharma.

That does not cover students who are returning to Delhi for different reasons. A visually impaired student of a North Campus college returned to Delhi in August to be able to use his assistive devices to attend his online classes, which are now in full swing. “I had left my laptop and assistive technology in Delhi, and without these, it is not possible for me to be able to access online classes or study, and the network in my village is poor. I was worried about missing out because I need to understand the foundations of the final-year papers, which will be important for entrance exams. I am now sharing a rented room with a friend, but that is not affordable so I might return if colleges and hostels don’t open after September 21,” he said.

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