An invasion by “outsiders” has created havoc at the century-old Elliot Hostel, in central Calcutta over the past few months. Established in 1896 to provide boarding to students of the Calcutta Madarsa, the hostel has turned into a haven for “unscrupulous” outsiders, apart from taxi-drivers and hawkers, who seek temporary refuge on the premises.
Sources say the scenario turns for the worse at night. Boarders have to sleep on the floor, following threats from the “outsiders”, who occupy the cots. Despite repeated complaints, no action has been taken.
The plight of the boarders came to light early this month when chairman of the West Bengal Minority Commission, Justice K. M. Yusuf, paid a surprise visit to the hostel.
Yusuf said: “I was appalled to learn that students here are being subjected to regular threats and humiliation by outsiders. Through the boarders, I came to know that outsiders have taken over the hostel completely. In my report to the government, I have sought its intervention to stem the rot.”
Justice Yusuf told Metro on Monday that he could not ascertain the exact number of boarders, as hostel superintendent Sahadat Hussain had left the place a month ago, without informing principal M. Saha of Maulana Azad College, who is in overall charge of the hostel.
“Hussain has not even passed on the keys of the almirah to the assistant superintendent. So, I could not check the documents during my visit,” Justice Yusuf alleged.
Realising that he did not do his bit to oversee the welfare of the hostel, superintendent Hussain, who returned to Calcutta last week, offered to resign on Tuesday. “I am ready to quit, owning moral responsibility for the sorry state of affairs in the hostel,” he said.
When contacted, director of public instruction (DPI) P.K. Ganguly said the government was contemplating “disciplinary action” against those responsible for the prevailing mess at the hostel. “Steps are being taken to set things in order,” he added. He admitted that outsiders have free access to the hostel at night, in connivance with the boarders. “There are at least 15 outsiders in the hostel that can accommodate only 138 boarders," he said.
That the outsiders have let loose a “reign of terror” in the hostel is evident from a statement made by Ramiz Reza, a student of Class VIII in the Calcutta Madarsa. “We feel scared, as the outsiders threaten us all the time,” he said.
Echoed Mohammad Aliar Rahman, an under-graduate, who said some former boarders had been overstaying in the hostel. “What is worrying us is that the environment of education has deteriorated in the hostel," he said.