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Pranab in, students out

Dumka, April 22: President Pranab Mukherjee may not be aware of it, but his forthcoming Santhal Pargana visit is threatening to render at least 250 students shelter-less for a few days.

The Dumka administration has asked students of SP College staying in the dressing room, which also doubles up as a hostel, of the outdoor stadium — the venue of SKMU’s convocation that the President will be gracing as the chief guest on April 29 — to vacate the place for security reasons. The boys, however, have refused to budge, saying that they ought to be provided some alternative accommodation.

They have threatened to go on a fast if the administration used force to throw them out.

“As it is, we are facing an acute shortage of space here (the hostel) and are forced to sleep on the floor. On top of that, district welfare officer Vidyanand Sharma Pankaj recently asked us to vacate the premises for four to five days without any alternative arrangement to facilitate a hassle-free visit for the President. Where will we go?” asked Amanual Hansda, prefect of hostel No. 3.

Hansda further said Pankaj had suggested that they go and stay at their homes for the time being. “But this is not possible as our studies will get affected with degree and competitive exams round the corner,” the student complained.

SP College under SKMU has six hostels earmarked for tribal students. While five are located on the college premises, the district administration allowed the authorities to use the outdoor stadium’s dressing room, comprising four halls and two small rooms and located about 3km from the campus, as hostel No. 3 in 2007 in want of adequate space to accommodate the students.

“The district administration made no effort to construct a separate hostel building for us over the past six years. We are not against the President’s visit but at the same time, we cannot go and stay on the roads. At least, the authorities should have scouted for some other alternative accommodation for us,” another student Premchand Soren said.

District welfare officer Pankaj, on the other hand, claimed that he was only carrying out the orders of the chief secretary and governor’s adviser, who had come here to review arrangements for the President’s visit.

“I have informed the deputy commissioner about the students’ stand. He will do the needful,” he said.

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