The students of Presidency University who had forced their way into the closed Eden Hindu Hostel in March and have been staying there since have written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleging “apathy” of the university authorities.
The students have alleged that the authorities have failed to reopen the hostel although education minister Bratya Basu “personally notified our university to reopen Eden Hindu Hostel immediately”.
The Presidency had invited applications from girl students admitted in the year 2022-23 for “boardership” at its Salt Lake hostel from July 22. It is yet to initiate the same exercise for Eden Hindu Hostel in central Kolkata, for which no superintendent has yet been appointed.
The exercise to allot accommodation at Hindu Hostel to students has not started even six months after Basu, an alumnus of the erstwhile Presidency College, told Presidency vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia to take steps to reopen the facility immediately.
“Even after the renormalisation of Presidency campus according to the West Bengal government notice, we witnessed that dean of students Arun Kumar Maity, as the highest authority of the hostel, showed apathy to reopen the Eden Hindu Hostel,” says the mail sent to the chief minister on Wednesday.
Calls and text messages to Lohia and Maity went unanswered. Text messages to Bratya Basu on Thursday also went unanswered.
On July 22, Presidency sought details from girl students such as the distance between the homes and the campus. “Girl students/research scholars” were asked to submit applications for “boardership” by July 27 and alerted them about the enhanced fee structure.
On July 31, Presidency published a notice listing the names of the girl students who have been allotted rooms in the hostel.
Shahriyar Alam Mandal, a third-year undergraduate student from Murshidabad, said the delay in reopening Hindu Hostel had left boys from districts in trouble. “After completion of my graduation in physics, I will pursue master’s and need accommodation for that. If they don’t start the admission process for Hindu Hostel, I will have nowhere to go. I cannot afford a stay as a paying guest,” Mandal said.
Mandal was among the students who had forced their way into the hostel on March 16 to protest the university’s alleged decision to not reopen the hostel despite the resumption of offline classes in mid-February.
The students are managing without dining facilities and the mess service, which have not resumed as the hostel is yet to be formally reopened.
In their letter to education minister Basu in May, the students staying at Hindu Hostel had highlighted the lack of maintenance and written: “So many students who need accommodation cannot apply for the facility. Many are facing issues while attending classes for this. We have previously mailed all these issues to the university administration but got no reply. Hence we are mailing this to you. We hope that the necessary steps will be taken very soon.”