Students of Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, who had stayed back in hostels when the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic came into effect, alleged that the administration is forcing them to vacate hostels and sign an undertaking that says that they are doing so as per their own volition.
While several students had left the university just ahead of the lockdown, some had decided to stay back. The university authorities have now asked students to sign a form which reads, “I declare that the decision to travel my hometown has been taken by me at my own responsibility and as per MHA (Ministry of Home Affair) guidelines.”
While the MHA guidelines say stranded students “will be allowed to move” with conditions, it does not mandate the same. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had in March said that students who had stayed back in hostels after the lockdown began “should be allowed to continue in their hostels”.
Registrar of the university, A P Siddiqui, also issued an order Friday which said, “The students stranded in the hostels who could not go back to their homes earlier and stayed back are hereby directed to vacate the hostels as per the arrangements of transportation and travel protocols of the state governments.”
“The areas in proximity of the university are being declared as hotspots, and no movement is allowed in the designated areas. It is difficult for the university to maintain logistics and manpower requirements in future,” he added.
Siddiqui said hostels were also “required for sanitisation, maintenance and for contingent quarantine facilities”.
“Therefore, the hostels are to be vacated completely with no exceptions. The provosts (boys and girls hostels) are requested to initiate the process urgently,” he said.
Hostel residents, however, said they had refused to sign the form and leave.
“There are around 30 residents still staying back at the girls’ hostel. We refused to sign it because we were being forced to leave. They wanted us to say that it’s our responsibility if something happens to us once we leave for our hometowns, which is not acceptable to us,” said a hosteler.
Another hostel resident said, “We have been restricted to our hostel buildings here. We haven’t even ventured out into the campus. What is the point of forcing us to vacate and exposing us to the virus now? We are also asking the university if we will have to go to quarantine centres if we leave, but nobody is clearing our doubts.”
Asked why students were being forced to vacate, a university official said, “MHRD guidelines are old. The situation has changed. When the university is closed for all purposes and the neighbourhood is surrounded by hotspots and containment zones from where substantial workforce comes, it is difficult to sustain logistics for the University.”
“Why don’t they want to go to their homes when a window is being provided for a safe journey back home? What will they do for 2-3 months when everything is online,” he said.
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