SRINAGAR: Amid rising campus activism by hostel boarders at Kashmir University, the authorities have decided to limit the hostel accommodation for students pursuing 5-year undergraduate courses to only the last two years of their course.
An official at the varsity, on condition of anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that the proposal to limit the stay period was initiated by higher officials last year in view of the mounting applications from students for hostel facility.
“In view of the increasing applications and also the complaints of indiscipline, the undergraduate students at the varsity would be provided accommodation only for their last two years. The move has been taken to justifiably distribute the boarding facility among deserving students and to prevent students from turning into hooligans,” said the official.
He said that the university administration had also decided to not provide accommodation to students selected for undergraduate courses through the annual entrance exam conducted by the varsity.
“For them there shall be no hostel accommodation available at the main campus. However, they would be provided boarding facility at our Zakura campus where construction of a new hostel building is almost complete and would be handed over to us soon,” the official said.
Students have decried the move and called it “anti-student”.
A number of students who spoke to Kashmir Reader said that rather than limiting the period of stay, authorities should have worked upon plans to provide accommodation to more students.
“The lack of hostel accommodation has been a long-pending demand of students and scholars. In the past several years, the authorities here have been saying that new projects have been taken up to increase the boarding capacity, but after waiting for years what we have received is this curtailing of hostel allotment. The move clearly shows that the varsity has some dubious intentions,” a group of students said.
They alleged that the varsity authorities were deliberately limiting the stay-period so that boarders, who are at the forefront in student activism on the campus, do not get time to mobilise students.
“It takes almost one year to know each and every one at a hostel. Being united and knowing each other’s needs is what hostel life is all about. We have a right to protest and express our dissent in a democratic manner. Tactics like these won’t deter us at all,” a group of boarders said.
Interestingly, the girl students will not be included in the order. The Kashmir University currently provides accommodation to about 2,200 students, both men and women, including at the new hostel buildings at the Zakura campus which cater to about 350 male students.
The authorities have already denied hostel accommodation to about two-dozen students of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the varsity.
One among such students is Mashood Aashaq, a 3rd semester BA-LLB student from Mohammadpora area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Since his admission, he has been paying frequent visits to administrative offices to secure university accommodation.
Showing his train tickets, Aashaq said he had to leave home as early as 7am to board a train so as to attend class on time. “Most of the days I miss my morning class because of the long distance I have to travel,” he said.
Ibrahim Pintoo, a 5th semester student in the same department and resident of a remote area in Gurez, said he applied for hostel in 2014 when he was admitted to the varsity. “I was denied with the lame excuse that no room was available,” he said.
As per sources within the university, the two hostels Mehboob-ul-Aalma and Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri have enough space to accommodate 200 additional students.
“There are some specific departments that are being targeted because they are considered outspoken and have been critical of the administration,” a group of students told Kashmir Reader.
GN Khaki, Provost at Kashmir University, said that the new order will bring uniformity in distribution of boarding facility.
“As the number of applications is increasing immensely, we limited the stay-period to bring uniformity in hostel accommodation. Given the limited resources, we can’t provide facilities to all students for five long years,” Khaki said.
When told about the problems of students who live in far-off places, Khaki said the administration has no alternative and that students have to face the situation till funds are released to construct new hostel buildings.
“Students from areas like Tral, Pattan, Palhallan, Sangam and other areas can manage to travel. Those from areas like Gurez, Ramban, Kupwara and other remote areas would be given accommodation under special consideration,” he added.