College students | Representational image | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
College students | Representational image | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Students living in hostels at central universities across India, from Delhi University to Aligarh Muslim University, are wary of going back to their hometowns despite the resumption of trains and buses for stranded people. 

Lack of social distancing inside public transport, the potential risk of exposing their families to the coronavirus, and the prospect of institutional quarantine are the primary fears holding them back.

Some students, who have been advised by institutions to vacate hostels but are scared of travelling amid the Covid-19 pandemic, have even taken shelter at the homes of their friends and acquaintances.

Several central universities have reportedly asked students to vacate hostels. While Banaras Hindu University and Jawaharlal Nehru University sent advisories in this regard before the lockdown kicked in, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia reportedly did so this month, as the central government started special trains to get migrant workers, tourists and students home.

States have, however, also been individually arranging buses since April to bring back students.


Also Read: Students living in campus hostels say unwilling authorities, limited means define lockdown


‘Abysmal facilities’

Beginning earlier this month, the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) started arranging buses for its students to go back home even as it insisted that they had the choice to stay back. Over 1,000 students have already been taken home within Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar.

One such student taken back to Saharanpur, UP, said they were lodged at a quarantine centre with “abysmal facilities” upon their return. 

“We were kept in a rough structure with a tin shed, for several hours. After we complained incessantly, they asked for our guardians to come and pick us up,” the student said.

A student still at the hostel said they were worried about leaving for precisely the same reason but the administration has put their mind at ease. 

“I was really worried that I will also be kept in a quarantine facility if I left, but now that the university has assured us that we will only be required to home-quarantine ourselves… I feel better,” Kaunain Raza, a 12th grade student staying at AMU’s Allama Iqbal Hostel, said.

According to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directive issued last week, stranded individuals brought back to their hometowns have to be subject to a health check-up. 

“On arrival at their destination, they would be assessed by the local health authorities, and kept in home quarantine, unless the assessment requires keeping a person in institutional quarantine,” the MHA had said in its directive, adding that they would be kept under a watch.

The assurance of the administration is based on the medical certificates they are issuing to students before sending them home.

“We are thermally scanning students who wish to leave, and giving them a medical certificate so they aren’t kept in quarantine facilities,” Shafey Kidwai, the AMU public relations officer, told ThePrint.

Students of Jamia Millia Islamia, too, were asked to vacate their hostels earlier this month. 

In a notice issued 1 May, the university said the hostels are to be vacated “completely with no exceptions”.

But students refused to leave, citing reasons ranging from fear of being sent into quarantine, to not being able to study without hurdles back home. 

“Many people come here from rural areas where there are no WiFi facilities. Everyone wants to stay back and prepare for future exams,” a student residing in Jamia’s old residents girls’ hostel said.


Also Read: July exams, classes from August, 6-day week — here’s India’s post-lockdown college calendar


JNU, BHU warned students in March

JNU cancelled all its classes and workshops on 16 March — over a week before the nationwide lockdown kicked in 25 March — and “strongly advised” all students to go home. There has been no such order from the university since. 

However, multiple students of the university told ThePrint that even if JNU were to arrange buses for them, they would rather not leave.

“I have absolutely no interest in leaving for home. I will be kept in a quarantine facility — I don’t know for how long and in what condition,” Abhinav, a PhD student from Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district, said.

“The situation has only gotten worse since March. Travelling in public transport could expose me to the virus. Then I would go home and make my family vulnerable, which isn’t fair,” the 24-year-old student, who resides at JNU’s Kaveri hostel, added.

Students also worry that social distancing — guidelines that advise a distance of at least one metre between two people amid the pandemic, to mitigate the scope of transmission — will be a challenge in these buses, especially for those with special abilities.

“Visually-impaired people often have to take help from others, we find it difficult to navigate crowded spaces. There should be some sort of a provision made for people like me,” said Shashi Bhushan, a visually-impaired student at JNU’s History department.

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) had also asked its students to leave the hostel premises around 15 March, but it was again an advisory. While many students who had no classes or assignments to attend left immediately, some others, mostly PhD students, stayed back. The university is now providing rations and other supplies to those who are still on the campus.

“My friends and I are among the few students who have stayed back in hostels,” said Raj Abhishek, a student from Bihar. “We prefer staying here as long as the situation does not normalise because going back in trains and buses is an even bigger risk. If we travel now, we will be quarantined when we reach our home state. Taking all this trouble makes no sense when we are managing fine in the hostel.”


Also Read: Like an MEA to help NRIs in crisis, India needs a system for its internal migrants too


DU students allege they were ‘denied entry’ to hostels

It’s the same story with outstation students of Delhi University. Akhilesh Kumar Yadav, a geology student in DU who lives at the Gwyer Hall men’s hostel, said, “I do not want to go back home because the facilities I am getting here in the hostel are good. Also, once I reach home, I will have to be quarantined for 14 days and who knows what kind of facilities the quarantine centres will provide. It is just better to stay put where we are.

“Some of my friends who are not in hostels and have been staying with their friends also want to stay put because they are not sure of the facilities, or the potential for social distancing in trains,” he added.

Many students claim they were denied entry into hostels and are living at their friends’ houses as a result.

“I am from Kanpur and I could not go back home before the lockdown began and now I am stuck here till August because classes will start only then,” said Nirmalya Awasthi, a BSc student who has been staying with his friends since he was allegedly denied entry in the absence of a medical certificate.

“My family members have been coercing me to come back home. Now that the trains have started, they want me to try and be back home.” 

Calls and messages to Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Tyagi for clarifications on allegations that students were denied entry into hostels went unanswered. However, a senior official in the administration, denied the charge.

“Students are not being denied entry into hostels, they are just being asked to produce a certificate that says they are not infected with coronavirus. If they get that, they can stay in hostels,” the official said. “This is a protocol that we need to follow for the safety of other students.”


Also Read: 11 hrs in train ‘without food and water’: Migrant workers on reaching Bareilly from Ludhiana


 

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22 Comments Share Your Views

22 COMMENTS

  1. Meer. Asmatmeer…………why all worriedabout students in their universities. are you are Hilter Ism policymakers imposing in Union of India. In Freedom PERIOD 1947 students of India studying in UK and mostly daily on strike s againnist British Govertment. ManY TIMES THEY MET WITH HIGHER LEVEL Bitisher and 🎁 present point of view of Sub continent freedom from British. Now. Few humble and grateful students show right path to PM Moode serkar RSS bugering Del hindo pershid Singh pervar RSS about their negative policies and RSS Hindwata policies. Which country divided in many cuminite

  2. And these are the same people promoting the propaganda that migrant labour or any one who wants to go home should be helped on taxpayers money?

    But it comes from themselves to go home they are scared.

  3. I think these jnu tokde tukde anti nationals should be charged market room rent and food charges which r otherwise dirt cheap and we the taxpayers feed them so that these anti national communists can trouble our beloved country as and when they want wake up modi Ji throw them out of universities where they r staying for years jai hind jai modi jai bharat

  4. These universities are terrorist camps all the faculties and students must be expelled to pakistan. Shut this terrorist camps

  5. These universities are terrorist camps all the terrorist trainers means faculties and terrorists means students must be expelled to pakistan. Shut this terrorist camps

  6. These universities are terrorist camps all the terrorist trainers means faculties and terrorists means students must be expelled to pakistan.

  7. There should be one fits all and that is to send all students home.These students should forcibily removed and no one knows how long we will have with lockdowns.They are all spoiled brats.Kick them out.

  8. India need better leadership at grass root levels too, to attend emergencies like Covid 19.
    Students should learn this.
    Our great personalities like Sri Modi ji is from such tough situations.
    Hope for the best always
    Jai Bharath

  9. These students are the citizens of this country as much as the people who are posting nasty comments from their homes. And since they are educated they understand that travelling to homes will only spread the corona further as many will be asymptomatic but they can still spread the virus to old relatives at home. Plus most of their houses don’t have internet connection in rural areas so how will they access online classes and may miss.out important notifications. These students will also pay taxes when they start earning and so did their parents,so they have as much right to education and hostel as the people with political and negative comments here.

  10. Last few months there were protests by so called kaniaya team. Fees hike, facilities etc were not upto the mark and all University students were on road.
    Suddenly they feel staying back is ok now. Double standard minds.

    These fellows forget they are feasting and enjoying on our tax money. Only middle class people know how much it feels to see our tax money goes in drain due to strike and protests

  11. Let all the theory oriented courses be telecasted through television channels. True digital India can solve many problems.

  12. These FELLOWS get good facilities here ,if they go home they will not get in home ,they always need facilities and benefit, but when country as whole interstate is there some of these fellows deshdrohi, who can go against india intrest ,so these facilities should be removed from them ,that will be their punishment and they very .u h afraid of their life ,but when ountry interest comes, these people are so dangerous they are tukde tukde gang ,will go against when unity and integrity comes of our beloved country india.very unfortunate

  13. Why is my tax money going to such freeloaders? Students from India who have gone abroad to study want to come back. But students staying at our liberal universities, virtually free of cost, want to enjoy freebies. No wonder these universities, darling of our champagne socialists, are breeding grounds for professional students, who refuse to pass out.

  14. JNU commies are known free loaders, surviving on govt subsidies . what is their contribution in helping poor around JNU ?
    Instigators like media and communist parties are also helpful

    • Convert these hostels as quadratin centers for for Corona infected people. It will be easy for government.

  15. I don’t find any logic in the students staying back when they got the notice in 15 or 16 March. At that time there was no quarantine. They stayed back for reasons of their own and are now facing the consequences.

  16. Why would they even go when they can feast upon government’s money without hardwork and plot bigger plans post Corona. If they go, they’d be divided. So these Universities are safe haven for them.

  17. The main reason in these universities is that the room rent and food chearges are very low and cheap. On such low charges and expenses they can live in the best environment and best cities and full freedom. They have nothing to worry and everything is done by the universities and authorities.

  18. Why DU, BHU, AMU or JNU students don’t want to go home despite trains and buses resuming.????????????

    अगर कुछ गलत होता है, तो कोई भी रक्षा करने के लिए नहीं होगा, यही कारण है कि वे वहां से जाना नहीं चाहते हैं। सीएए, एनआरसी की सुरक्षा कौन करेगा।

  19. 1. Far from being possessed of scientific temper, students shown themselves to be positively irrational. Why would their family be put at risk if they go home?
    2. It is hilarious to see students whose heart otherwise bleeds for the poor, worried about conditions of government quarantine facilities. Champagne and limousine radicals in the making!

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