Locked out in uncertainty: Allahabad University Hostel discussions offer hope for Students, but despair lingers

Students allege that all their belongings, including laptops, and crucial documents are inside their sealed hostel rooms, and they have been unable to access them since March 6
Pic: Sourced
Pic: Sourced

The arrest of an Allahabad University student, Sadaqat Khan, in connection to the murder of BJP leader Umesh Pal has led to severe and unjust consequences for students. The Muslim Hostel of the University of Allahabad, where Khan resided in room number 36, has been sealed by the local administration, leaving students stranded. However, there is a glimmer of hope for the students as discussions are underway between the hostel authorities. "There was a meeting held today (March 14) to discuss the reopening of the hostels. Additionally, the DM has stated he has no objections if the hostel authorities decide to reopen the hostel earlier," shares Zaid Badshah, an LLB student from the hostel. Despite the positive developments, the students remain sceptical and worried about the uncertainty of their situation. "Sealed once means sealed forever," says Abid Ali, another affected student. He further informs that the authorities have admitted to making a mistake by sealing the entire hostel, stating that they were only supposed to seal a part of it. 

"The hostel authority is taking positive steps coordinating district administration, so we are hopeful that things will work in our favour," says a student on condition of anonymity. With only a day's notice, the Muslim Hostel was sealed on March 6, causing immense distress and uncertainty among the students who were away for the Holi holidays. "We went home thinking everything was fine, only to come back and see the hostel sealed," the student shares. "All of our belongings, including crucial documents, books, and laptops, are inside our sealed hostel rooms. How will we even appear for our exams in this situation?" 

The student further explains that the situation has been particularly difficult for the students, as they were locked out of the hostel just before their annual exams began. "Our exams started on March 13, and we are appearing for them while being locked out of the hostel," he says. 

The situation has become increasingly dire, leaving many students with no other choice but to resort to extreme measures to find shelter for the night. Some have managed to find temporary lodging at a friend's place or a nearby Dharamshala, but for others, seeking refuge on railway platforms and pavements has become a harsh reality. "We are spending our nights like this and appearing for our exams the next morning," says a student in exasperation. Further, the lack of available rooms and rampant discrimination against Muslim Hostel students has made it nearly impossible for them to find safe and secure accommodations. "If anyone even gets to know that we are Muslim hostel students, they are kicking us out," shares Abid Ali.

Despite the challenging circumstances, the students are doing their best to continue with their studies and give their exams. However, they are facing several difficulties, including a lack of proper food and accommodation, which is beginning to take a toll on their health. "We are somehow managing to appear for our exams, but our health is deteriorating rapidly. We are also struggling to find adequate food," says Zaid, who also highlights the issue of mosquitoes, which is a significant concern for their safety and well-being. "We are scared of catching dengue fever from the mosquitoes." With nowhere to sleep, no stable place to stay, and no resources to rent a room, the students are left feeling hopeless and vulnerable. 

In response to the ongoing situation, the University of Allahabad has issued a press release disassociating itself from the Muslim Boarding Hostel and Hohall Hostel. The press release stated both hostels are run by different trusts and that the activities in these hostels have nothing to do with the university. "The activities in these hostels have nothing to do with Allahabad University as most of the occupants are living illegally and are not university students," read the release. 

The Fraternity Movement, a youth organisation, has also issued a strong statement condemning the sealing of the Allahabad University Muslim Hostel and expressing solidarity with the affected students. In the statement, Asim Khan, President of the Fraternity Movement, criticized the authorities for their "strange act of evacuation and sealing" of the hostel, which left students unable to access their belongings or even their ID cards.

Khan also highlighted the plight of the students who were forced to seek refuge on railway platforms during the ongoing exams, and called on the university administration to take immediate action to revoke what he called a "blatant act of student rights violation". "As Allahabad (Prayagraj) is already a difficult area for Muslim students to find accommodation, the university must prioritise the safety and well-being of its students and ensure that they have access to the necessities," Khan said. Currently, the students are demanding that the hostel be reopened for legal residents as soon as possible such that they are finally able to retrieve their belongings and resume their studies without any further hindrances.

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