New Delhi: Jamia Millia Islamia’s notice, asking students to vacate the university hostels, has elicited a sharp pushback from the students, with many refusing to leave the campus.
The university, in its notice issued last Friday, said the hostels are to be vacated “completely with no exceptions”, adding that the “the areas in proximity of the university being declared as hotspots, sealing the designated areas with no movements being allowed (sic)”.
However, students in the Jamia hostels say they fear they will be sent to quarantine facilities before they can go to their homes.
“They say they will drop us to our homes, but we fear they will forcefully keep us in quarantine centers with poor facilities for many days,” a fourth-year Bachelors student, who is residing in the university’s Allama Iqbal hostel, told ThePrint. The student did not want to be named.
The university’s notice came after the Modi government allowed movement of special trains to send back stranded migrants and students to their homes.
According to the notice, students are directed to travel to their homes “as per the arrangements of transportation and travel protocols of the state governments”.
While many students left the campus before the lockdown was imposed on 25 March, there are about 300 students still residing in the hostels.
“This is a window of opportunity for them, they got stuck here because of the lockdown but can leave now after the government’s announcement of trains,” Ahmed Azeem, the PRO of the university, told ThePrint.
“It’s not like we are just asking them to pack their bags and get out. We will coordinate with the nodal officer of the state governments and arrange transport,” Azeem added.
Fear of hostels being turned into quarantine centres
Students also fear that hostels will be converted into quarantine facilities as the notice hinted at that possibility.
“The hostels are also required for sanitation, maintenance and for contingent quarantine facilities,” it said.
For many students who have gone back home, this is a scary prospect as their belongings are still in the hostels.
“My clothes, my books — everything is still there. If they suddenly decide to turn the hostels into a quarantine (facility), I don’t know how I will access my belongings,” a student, who went back to his home in Kolkata before the lockdown, told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
The university said there hasn’t been a confirmed decision yet to convert the hostels into quarantine facilities, but it could be a possibility.
“In case the government asks us for quarantine facilities, then the hostel will have to be considered since it has toilets also,” Azeem said.
Jamia says providing service is becoming an issue
The primary reason cited by the university for asking students to vacate the hostels is that the adjoining areas have been declared as Covid-19 hotspots and thus, making it difficult for the varsity to provide service to the students.
“The university will reopen in August. How will we provide services to the students till then? Most service-providers and staff members come from nearby areas, but all those areas have been declared hotspots making movement very difficult,” PRO Azeem said.
The university is located in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, areas surrounding which like Zakir Nagar and Abul Fazal Enclave have been declared as containment zones.
Many students are also unsure of the arrangements being made by the university to enable their transport.
“What if states refuse to accept us? Will we be sent by trains or buses? Who will ensure our safety? We are safe and secure in the hostels and don’t want to leave,” a student, residing in the old residents girls’ hostel, told ThePrint.
“Moreover, many people come from rural areas where there are no WiFi facilities. These are students who want to prepare for further examinations, and can’t do so in their homes,” she added.