Published: 12th April 2019
We didn't know library worked till 8.30 pm: NIT Agartala women who protested to extend hostel curfew
The women hostellers called off the strike on April 11 night, after the administration promised them to extend the hostel in-time from the next semester
To describe the situation of the women hostellers of NIT Agartala, we would like to borrow a Sanskrit expression called Kupamanduka, that literally translates to 'frog in a well'. The frog is conditioned to believe that the well is the world and is oblivious of the existence of life outside it. Same applied to the hostellers who were confined inside the four walls of Gargi Hostel, post 6 pm, who were unaware that their library functioned till 8.30 pm, till very recently.
Recently, around 100 BTech students, who are residents of the Gargi Hostel had protested at their campus, calling for an extension in their hostel in-time to 9.30 pm, after they were denied permission to celebrate Holi. It was only during the protest meeting that they were informed by the Dean that their library is open until 8.30 pm. "Look at our situation. We don't even know what is happening inside our own college," says Ridhima*, a student body member. The students protested for three days straight and called off the strike on April 11, after the proctor assured them of an extension of the in-time from the next semester.
The students say that the administration is also flooding their parents with phone calls, threatening them. That's not just it. On one night, the protesting hostellers were even denied food at the hostel.
"The administration initially told us that they will extend the curfew only till 6 pm. But when we told them that it was unacceptable, they told us that the NIT doesn't have enough security to make sure that the students are safe post 6.30 pm. But this is untrue. Our hostels are equipped with CCTV cameras and there are many security guards," says Ridhima. "After much negotiation, they told us that they will extend the in-time from the next semester. In case it is unacceptable, we will resume our strike," she adds.
Even though the students have been facing troubles regarding the hostel timing, the trigger for the students was the Holi of 2019. "While the men could go out and celebrate the festival, women weren't allowed to go out of the hostel. After much persuasion, the hostel warden let us play Holi, but with a lot of restrictions," says Ridhima. "The hostel food is also not up to the mark. Even on special occasions, we do not get to eat good food. Also, we aren't allowed to wear shorts inside the hostel and the wardens harass us unnecessarily," she adds.
*Name changed to protect identity