The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Class boycott over toilets

Students of the Government College of Art & Craft continue to boycott classes because the toilets of their hostel at 20, Jadulal Mullick Road, in north Calcutta, still remain in a state of disrepair. The students have been agitating since August 8.

The Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Narendrapur, which is the landlord of this five-storey building that was rented out to the Director of Public Instruction (DPI) in the 60s for Rs 36,000 a year, recently sent some masons to repair the rooms, in which the 51 boarders live.

But they have not touched the bathrooms yet, which are in a precarious state. The masons wrote to the DPI that repairs were impossible during the rains. The Ashram wants DPI out and is not willing to negotiate with it on the issue of hiking the rent.

A team of agitating students met minister for higher education Satyasadhan Chakrabarty on August 26. But the minister failed to give them any assurance when repairs of the bathrooms will be undertaken.

The students have decided not to yield and will not stop agitating unless extensive repairs are undertaken soon. Even if they are given alternative accommodation they will not move out unless the new place is close to their college like their present hostel is.

They say that the boarders, many of whom are from outside the state and some very poor, can afford to live there because it is so close to the market from where provisions can be bought comparatively cheap. The students are in charge of their mess and they can have two meals a day, including a sliver of fish, for a miraculously low Rs 350 a month. So while the government declines to intervene in the matter and the impasse continues, the students are the only ones who suffer.

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