Published: 28th February 2020
DU hostel women escalate stir with song and strife to dismantle 7.30 curfew. Will it work?
The students broke three doors down and protested at the Dhaka Complex of the varsity. Provost Dr Rita Singh's vehicle was also blocked and surrounded for hours
As the national capital recovered from one of the worst riots it has seen in the past few decades, residents of the Delhi University's women's hostels were fighting to keep their doors open past 7.30 pm. The residents of five women's hostels of DU have been on an indefinite sit-in from 6 pm, February 27 at the DU Girls' Hostel Main Gate on Indira Vihar Road, Mukherjee Nagar. The hostel authorities have written to the Dean of Colleges of the varsity to hold an urgent meeting to resolve the issue.
The women who reside in Delhi University's hostels for undergraduate students have a curfew of 7.30 pm and those pursuing post-graduation have a deadline of 10 pm. The students say they have been told enough times that the authorities at the hostels cannot do anything about it and have now decided to take it upon themselves to amend the regulation.
Initially, a rally, starting from the Ambedkar Ganguly Hostel shouting slogans “Remove Curfew, Implement UGC”, “Hostel ke darwaaze khol bol saheli halla bol” went around the entire Dhaka Complex, where the hostels are situated. "After that, the group of women rallying outside the hostels assembled near the undergraduate hostel for girls in the complex where the gates get closed at 7.30 pm and they opened the gates and made sure the gate remains open all night," said Amisha Nanda, a student at the Faculty of Law and a resident of Ambedkar Ganguly Students House for Women. "The students then collected the prospectus of all the hostels and burnt it publicly as a sign of resistance against the arbitrary rules and regulations and it was emphasised how the prospectus had more grounds of eviction for the students than the facilities. Many issues like high fees, curfew related issues, unaccountability of hostel authorities, over-monitoring of students, irrational fines, lack of basic facilities like Wifi and unhygienic water, transparency in the fee structure, moral policing and several other problems were raised," she added.
A theatre group also performed a play focussing on issues like sexual harassment, female foeticide, women’s oppression and all other issues concerning women students residing in hostels, away from home. "As soon as the play got over it was a great coincidence that the vehicle of one of the Provosts, Dr Rita Singh, was seen leaving the main gate and the students surrounded the vehicle and emphatically started chanting their demands and issues. The vehicle was surrounded from all the sides by the students for more than an hour and the students demanded their issues be heard," said one of the protesting students. "A group of students had also gone to call on all other authorities of the hostels and broke the lock of International Students House for Women where the Resident Tutor and Warden of North Eastern Students House for Women also reside," she added.
Wardens of other hostels like Rajiv Gandhi hostel, Ambedkar Ganguly hostel were also called to address the students, said the protestors. "They said that they had no inkling about the protest even after an e-mail was sent to all the hostel committees. One of the students read aloud the Charter of Demands explaining all the demands and how it was very important to get all the demands fulfilled as soon as possible in the presence of the officials. Students shared their respective problems in front of the hostel administration and emphasised that freedom was their fundamental right and no one can put a restriction on their mobility," said Amisha.
Even though the authorities wrote and signed the letter to the Dean of Colleges at 3 am, the students are not too happy about it. "The letter does not mention any specific time as to when the meeting will take place and the demands of students would be fulfilled, so some of us are on indefinite sit in representing the demands of each hostel until their demands get fulfilled," added Amisha.