Residents of a tribal girls’ hostel in Pune on Monday started a fast-unto-death to get various grievances addressed. By late evening, the protest had to be called off, after the intervention of the project officer of Ghodegaon. But not before two of the students took ill and required medical attention. The hostel warden was also temporarily removed.
More than 60 students of two hostels in Hadapsar had started their fast on Monday morning. Students who spoke to The Indian Express listed various issues ranging from security to lack of proper study material in their hostel. Security concerns were foremost as, for the last three months, a broken window pane in one of the bedrooms is yet to be repaired. The hostel, which is situated cheek by jowl with a temporary labour colony, also does not have proper screenings to safeguard the privacy of the students. In the absence of a permanent security guard, the students said safety was a major concern.
Other than security, the girls also spoke about the lack of proper garbage disposal and the absence of a library.
Operating out of a rented premise just adjacent to a major shopping mall, the hostel houses around 100 students who are drawn from remote tribal regions of the state. The girls are pursuing higher education in various colleges of the state. Run by the tribal development department, this is one of 11 such hostels operational in Pune.
Neelam Devare, one of the protesting students, said that they had communicated to the office of the project officer (Ghodegaon) about their concerns early in September.
“We were told that immediate action would be taken to address our issues but nothing happened,” she said.
During the sit-in two girls, Nisha Pawara, and Dipali Gabale, took ill and required medical attention.
The protesting students said they had covered the broken window pane with plastic sheets. “However, that is not a permanent solution,” a student said.
Ayush Prasad, project officer (Ghodegaon), admitted to the slow pace of redressal of the students’ issues. “As the hostel is operating out of rented premises we are not allowed to spend money for its repair. Four letters have been issued to the property owner for the repairs,” he said.
The window pane, he said, would be replaced on a war-footing while other repairs will be undertaken in a systematic manner.