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Visva plans boot for illegal hostel stayers

- Drive after freshers complain that allotted rooms are already occupied; accused student claims torture

Santiniketan, Oct. 1: Visva-Bharati will ask all those overstaying in hostels to leave immediately, the move prompted by complaints from freshers that rooms allotted to them were already occupied.

Officials said most of the illegal occupants were Visva-Bharati students who had not vacated the hostels even after completing their course. “The practice has been going on for at least 10 years,” an official said.

The decision to launch the drive was taken at a meeting vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta had with chief proctor Samit Roy and registrar Mani Mukut Mitra on September 24.

Sources said the drive would involve three steps. “First, a list of unauthorised occupants will be drawn up. Second, checks will be regularly done in all hostels, and third, wardens will be told to inform the vice-chancellor or the registrar if any illegal occupancy comes to their notice,” an official said.

“We have already collected a list of legal boarders. We will launch the drive soon,” he added.

Visva-Bharati does not specify any deadline for students to vacate their rooms once their exams are over. There is only a verbal order that says students will have to leave their rooms within 48 hours of final exam.

“They (illegal occupants) take advantage of this,” an official said.

Some officials alleged many hostel wardens were aware of the practice but did not take action fearing trouble. “Many of the occupants have political connections outside the university,” an official said.

Asked what steps would be taken against such wardens, the official said: “At the moment, we are not thinking of any action against the unauthorised occupants or the wardens who had kept mum despite knowing that hostel rooms were illegally occupied.”

According to sources, several students had complained about illegal occupancy.

In the past few months, the sources added, some of the hostels at the varsity have been at the centre of controversies — a Class V Patha Bhavan girl was allegedly forced to lick her own urine by a hostel warden in July. “Incidents like this prompted the VC to launch the crackdown,” an official said.

Some other officials said there were at least a dozen complaints from freshers in the past six months that rooms allotted to them were locked.

One of the complaints mentioned a particular room at a Vidya Bhavan hostel that was allegedly occupied by a student who had passed his MA two years ago.

Asked how could a room that was already occupied be allotted to a fresher, an official said: “On paper, they are vacant.”

Some students also alleged that staying in hostels had its advantages. “Meals are cheap. A non-vegetarian lunch comes for Rs 25. There are no power cuts. So, students who have already passed out still stay and pursue professional courses from private institutes,” a student said.