Published: 21st March 2020
Government hostels in Bengaluru remain deserted but med students continue to serve amidst COVID-19 pandemic
We visited different government hostels to do a reality check if the students have left for their homes. All these hostel rooms are vacant and will not open until the next orders by the state gov't
On March 12, BS Yediyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka, announced that the state will be shut down for a week to stop the rapid spread of the deadly COVID-19. Many private and government organisations asked their employees to work from home. At the same time, all the government and private college and universities were issued a circular to vacate the hostels and send students to their homes. After taking a serious note of the rising cases in the state, the CM extended the shutdown till March 31. We went to hostels across Bengaluru to see whether the students have left or the travel restrictions have landed them in trouble.
We knocked on the doors of Maharani Womens Arts, Commerce and Management College's hostel first. Located opposite to the Freedom Park the hostel accommodates around 300 students. While the college and its hostel premises wore a deserted look, we saw some of the house-keeping staff cleaning the corridors while the other part of the hostel remained locked. Dr Sayida Wasim Afrose, the Principal, said, "We received the circular from the Education Department and Department of Public Instructions the last week and on the same day some students left for their home. Other students come from other states or distant areas waited for their parents or guardians to come and get them. We were equally concerned about the situation but parents were more worried than us. Now, the college, as well as hostel, will remain closed until March 31. We will wait for the instructions from the government."
Maharani Womens Arts, Commerce and Management College's hostel
The second hostel that we visited was Bangalore Medical College Gents Hostel on the Palace Road. Here, the situation was no different from the previous one except a few final years medical students were still living in the hostel. A final medical student said, "All the first, second, third and fourth-year MBBS students are at their homes. Since we are in the final year, we need to visit the hospital as per the shifts. And we were asked to stay here. Currently, around 15 people are here and all kinds of precautionary measures have been taken." When we asked if they are scared of coming in touch with COVID-19, he said under the condition of anonymity, "Why should we fear when we are staying in separate rooms in the hostel. We also have taken all kinds of precautionary measures in the hospital as well as a hostel."
Bangalore Medical College Gents Hostel
We drove next to the Government Science College Boys Hostel. The huge gate was locked and two men were seen sitting at a tiny gate trying to while away their time. The rooms remained locked and the gates at the entrance of the room were also closed. Ravi K, who is an assistant cook at this hostel asked what are we looking for. When we asked for students, he said, "When the whole state is shut down, what will students do here? Around 250 students would stay here and they went home. We are coming here for the sake of attendance. The hostel will be shut until the government's next orders. We are also hoping to get back to work soon."
Government Science College Boys Hostel
Walking three kilometres ahead of this hostel, we found another Government Arts College Boys Hostel in the Primrose Road. Naresh M N, in-charge of this hostel, had kept both entrances of the hostel locked. The rooms were empty and there was not a single person on the premises. Naresh said, "Nearly 200 students stay here. We cleaned the premises last week when the students left. Hope this disease will stop spreading and everything is back to normalcy."
Government Arts College Boys Hostel
Like these hostels, the Indian Institute of Science has been locked down since last week and around 4,000 students are back to their home. Similarly, the students from United Theological College located in Benson Town have vacated the hostel rooms a few days ago. Rini Ralte who is a Professor and Chair Person in the Women's Studies Department, said, "There were 100 students and around 90 of our students including men and women have vacated the hostel long back. Remaining students have gone to their relatives' house in and around Bengaluru."
A few more pictures of how the hostels looked during shutdown