IIT Kharagpur snaps Net in hostels to ‘evict’ boarders
The IIT Kharagpur authorities have disconnected the Internet in hostels, fuelling charges that it was intended at forcing students to vacate the rooms.
The director had asked all students to leave the campus by August 30. The Net connection in all five hostels was snapped on Tuesday evening, an official said.
The decision was taken three days after 65 research scholars had written to director V.K. Tewary that they were unable to leave the campus by Sunday and had sought permission to stay in the hostels till the situation became normal.
Apart from the research scholars, a few BTech and MTech students are on the campus as they cannot return home in the absence of trains and some of their family members have comorbidities.
A boarder of the Nivedita hall of residence said the Wi-Fi and LAN services had been stopped and that they were unable to attend online classes or access journals on their laptops in the hostels.
The online classes for the autumn semester have started from September 1 and live classes are being held on Microsoft Teams.
“As the Internet facilities have been withdrawn, we could not attend the live classes. Some of the students have to buy expensive data packs to attend classes on their smartphones. But one cannot keep buying high-speed packs for the entire semester,” a boarder said.
A research scholar said for the purpose of reference one had to consult various international journals.
“As long as we had Net connectivity in the hostels, we could access the journals free of cost. Now, we have to subscribe against a steep payment to access the journals on smartphones,” she said.
Any institute of higher learning, through its research grant, subscribes to journals and students can access
them from hostels with Net connectivity, a teacher said.
Another research scholar said they had to step outside the hostels and stand or sit in the open to access the institute’s network facility.
“But we are allowed to step out only for an hour for lunch. Besides, one cannot concentrate on studies or research in the open,” he said.
The dean of students’ affairs, Somesh Kumar, said: “The Internet facilities have been withdrawn following the decision of higher authorities.”
A BTech student said the institute which had sent its officials, along with security men, to evict the boarders from one of the halls on August 24, has now adopted a different ploy so that students leave the hostels on their own.
A video had emerged that purportedly showed an official of IIT Kharagpur, accompanied by guards, telling students at Madan Mohan Malviya hall of residence to vacate the campus, failing which their belongings would be taken away.
“Now they are withdrawing the Net service to throw us out,” a student said.
The IIT authorities had on August 19 asked the 300-odd students still on the campus to move out by August 23 after a student had tested positive for Covid-19.
Now the number has risen to 12, five of them being students.
“The institute is asking the students to leave the campus for their own safety. The director has requested them repeatedly. The bulk of the students have left, only a handful refuse to understand,” an official said.