PULWAMA: At least 75 students belonging to Gujjar and Bakerwal communities are living in cramped conditions in a dilapidated building that the government has taken on rent in Pulwama. The government hostel meant for them is occupied by the paramilitary CRPF — for the past more than two decades.
“The CRPF has occupied the building of the Gujjar hostel for over two decades. The authorities have not bothered to get the hostel vacated. The hostel is for tribal students studying in various educational institutions in Pulwama. The government’s tribal department has hired a building for our accommodation, but that is in dilapidated condition,” a group of students told Kashmir Reader.
“The upper floor of the building is totally unsafe. Due to the shortage of accommodation, six to seven students are made to share one room. We are being made to live like cattle in a few rooms with broken windows,” a student living in the building said.
There is only one toilet and one bathroom for the 75 students staying in the shabby building. “We have to use a single washroom which is about 100 feet away from the building,” the students living there said.
Students have complained to officials and to ministers, but nothing has been done to free the hostel building from the CRPF’s occupation. “Two ministers visited the hostel last year and on seeing the condition of the rooms assured us that they will solve our problems. But nothing happened later,” a student said.
Warden of the hostel, Muhammad Kameel, said that he had raised the issue of the CRPF’s occupation of the hostel many times with senior officials and in district board meetings. “I don’t remember how many times I raised this issue, but nothing has been done,” the warden told Kashmir Reader.
He admitted that the building hired by the tribal department is in a bad condition. “Students here have to face a lot of difficulties. More than five students share a single room, which is injustice to them,” he said.
Sources in the district administration said that the CRPF have been asked to vacate the hostel many times, but the CRPF said they will vacate only if alternative accommodation is provided to them.