Boarders protest in front of East Singhbhum SSP office on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
A 100-bed hostel for tribal students on Jamshedpur Co-operative College premises is horror for boarders, thanks to lax security that often turns the state-run accommodation into a lair for local hoodlums.
The hostel, spread over five cottahs (some 3,600sqft) near the science block of the college has no main gate or guard to ensure the safety of students. The not-so-high boundary wall gives wayward youths from nearby slums easy access to the campus — and at odd hours.
Thefts and drunken brawls are routine and opposition from students is answered with violent reprisals. Dama Soren, an MA first-year student and a boarder, was the latest victim.
“I was going for tuition to Sakchi yesterday (Tuesday) evening when three youths on a bike attacked me with sticks and stones near Jubilee Park. All the while, they abused me for raising my voice against grazing cattle on the hostel premises. I was injured in the neck and hand,” the 24-year-old, who lodged a complaint with Bistupur police on Wednesday morning, said.
Inmates of the hostel later staged protests near East Singhbhum SSP Akhilesh Jha’s office and submitted a memorandum, demanding arrests. They also met Jamshedpur Co-operative College principal R.K. Das on inadequate security and lack of a gate.
“We had earlier complained to district welfare officer Filbus Barla and also to different principals of the college, but in vain. There has been no respite. We continue to live in fear,” said Khudiram Tuddu a final-year postgraduate student of the college.
He claimed that every month, there were quarrels between students and youths of nearby slums, who entered the hostel at night and in inebriated condition.
“Cycles of students have been stolen in the past,” he said, hinting that the crime was perpetrated by intruders from the slums.
The tribal hostel was built at a cost of Rs 55 lakh by the state welfare department and inaugurated in 2003. Though there are 30 rooms, each with a maximum capacity of four beds, students sleep on the floor or join beds to make room for more. At present, the hostel has 150 boarders.
Principal Das admitted that hostel security was a nagging issue, but expressed his helplessness in the matter.
“I had sent written recommendations to Kolhan University registrar, its vice chancellor and the district welfare officer for construction of a boundary wall and fixing of a gate at the hostel, but have not received any response so far. I will once again take up the matter with varsity and welfare department officials,” Das said.
District welfare officer Barla could not be reached because he is on leave.
Senior clerk at the district welfare office, U.K. Mukherjee said the decision could only be taken by department higher-ups in Ranchi.