Published: 02nd June 2020
UoH is asking us to risk our lives: Students from red zones petrified after varsity asks them to go back home
Students fear they will be unable to arrange transport and since the situations in their hometowns are grave, they are scared for their safety
While the Centre and the states have relaxed lockdown rules in non-containment areas, the University of Hyderabad administration has asked students to vacate their hostels by the end of the week. However, the students are protesting this move claiming they cannot be forced to go back to their hometowns, especially when the situation continues to be "grave".
In its letter, the administration has said that various staff at the hostel come from red-zone areas in the city and that they were worried of the virus spreading, "The university administration has assessed the current situation in Telangana. It is noticed that some of the hostel staff travel to and from areas designated as red zones. Among these red zones several of them have been designated as containment zones which are dynamically changing. Keeping in mind the interest and safety of students, we strongly advise all boarders to return to their homes at the earliest," the University email said.
The University said that they would close all mess facilities from June 9. Students from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been asked to leave by June 5 and students from other states have been asked to leave by June 9. The students have been asked to take advantage of the relaxations on travel and return home, especially since the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that institutions will only be reopening in July 2020.
The students already conducted a protest last month when the administration decided to shut down the hostels. Now with this new directive, they find themselves in a fix again. Some students don't think it is safe for them to return home, as the situation is much worse and having to arrange for transport at this point is also an impossible task for many.
Several students from Maharashtra, which has the highest number of cases in the country, are terrified of returning at this point as they might be quarantined. "Those who want to and who can have already left the campus. The students who have remained are the ones who cannot go back. Students from Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal and also Telugu students who cannot afford to be in quarantine for various reasons. They don't think it is safe for them at this juncture and are scared," one of the members of the Students' Union said.
One student from Maharashtra said that his "first priority" is to survive this pandemic, "My mother and brother are staying in Mumbai's suburbs, which is one of the most highly contaminated areas in the country. My native town is Satara, which is 100 kilometres from Pune, another hotspot in the state. My district has already seen more than 25 deaths in just one week," he explained. "Those who are travelling from other states are being kept in schools for quarantine. These quarantines are now full, there is no space. Apart from this ground reality, asking students to make their own travel arrangements, the University is taking another insensitive step," the student said.
He added that the students are being forced to risk their lives, "They are indirectly asking us to risk our own lives, the way the migrant workers in this country are being forced to. We see lakhs of working class people struggling to reach their homes and we have seen how they have been left to die on the streets. And at this time, our University is telling us the government has made travel arrangements. This is highly problematic, " he said.
The UoH Students' Union approached the Chief Warden's office and are determined to fight to ensure the campus will be kept open and that no student is forced to leave. Abhishek Nandan, the President of the Union refused to accept the administration reasons for shutting down the hostels, "The lame excuses the administration puts forward is that the increasing number of cases in the surrounding localities. We wish that the administration be more responsible to arrange better facilities and screening mechanisms to prevent the virus spread entering the campus," he said.
"The administration does not fail to bombard students with an endless number of questions when anyone goes out for essentials, but remains loyal to the faculty and their families by freeing them from these enquiries. Discrimination and bias will not contain the virus. Forceful evacuation will be fought and we will continue to protest until the notification is unconditionally withdrawn," he asserted.