| Boarders of Sardar Patel Hostel block Bhikna Pahari area on Tuesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna University hostels, where once great minds mingled, are now churning out hooligans who create havoc both in and outside colleges.
All PU hostels, including Minto, Jackson, Rani Ghat and Hathwa, have a glorious history of producing several IAS and IPS officers. Many among them hold key positions now.
Former ambassador and foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey was a boarder of Rani Ghat Hostel. So was Central University of Bihar vice-chancellor Janak Pandey. Principal secretary to the chief minister Anjani Kumar Singh is an ex-Mintoite; home secretary Amir Subhani, too, had a stint at the hostel. Retired IPS officer Rajyavardhan Sharma spent his college days at Rani Ghat and Minto hostels. Not only have these hostels produced IAS and IPS officers but also eminent literary personalities like Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, and Gorakh Nath Singh, one of the most renowned economists that Bihar has ever produced.
However, the same hostels are now haven for students-turned-criminals. “The hostels which had produced such distinguished personalities and civil servants are now producing molesters and hooligans. The four students who were recently accused of molesting a girl at Patna College were all boarders of Jackson. Also, the students who attacked PU vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh were Saidpur boarders,” said a senior teacher of Patna College.
On March 1, two girls, out on a morning stroll on the grounds of Patna College, were abused and molested by a group of four youths, all said to be students of the institution. The youths then severely assaulted six boys, including the brother of one of the girls, who had rushed in to help after hearing their cries. One of the boys who tried to fend off the molesters was admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital with a fractured leg.
Most teachers of the college believe that earlier, students were very disciplined and devoted most of their time to studies. “During our time, discipline was the key. No one could even imagine staying in hostels in an unauthorised way,” said Janak Pandey. The CUB vice-chancellor was a boarder at Rani Ghat hostel while pursing a postgraduate in psychology from 1962 to 1964.
He added: “During our time, the Rani Ghat hostel superintendent was Vimal Prasad. He later became the ambassador to Nepal. From our batch, around six students cleared civil service examination and many others joined universities as lecturers.”
Echoing Pandey, a senior IPS officer and a former boarder of Rani Ghat said: “The hallmark of the PU hostels was that there was fixed study hours in the morning and in the evening. During this time, the hostel gates were closed and no one was allowed to enter or exit. Only after the study hour was over, we were served meals.”
A present boarder of the hostel, who also stayed at Jackson, said: “At present, there is no such study hour. Even scarier is that there is no fixed time to enter or leave the hostel premises. I have heard from my seniors that earlier, Patna College principals used to visit the hostels for inspection. But no one visits us now.
He added that Minto Hostel does not have a superintendent for three years. “No one remembers when Rani Ghat had a superintendent. Many boarders at Jackson are not aware of who their superintendent is.”
According to the principal of Patna College, Rash Bihari Prasad Singh, hostels lost sheen in the seventies after some unscrupulous elements of the JP Movement (1974) exploited the situation for their own benefit. “When I was a student of Patna University (1968), the seats at Rani Ghat Hostel were allocated to the toppers,” he said.