Students homeless during exam season

Hassled by abrupt shutdown of PG accommodations

Students homeless during exam season

Belongings lying outside an illegal PG in Chandigarh.

Amarjot Kaur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28

Unleashing a drastic bedlam, the horrors of fire tragedy at a paying guest (PG) accommodation in Sector-32 have now come to haunt students during their exams. Hassled by the arbitrary shutdown of PG services across the city for the fear of being raided by the administration, a large number of students today staged a protest outside the DC Office in Sector 17. 

Administration silent

  • When contacted, the person who answered Central SDM Nazuk Kumar’s phone said she was on leave, while Satish Jain, SDM (South), did not respond to the calls made by this correspondent, despite repeated attempts.

From March onwards, mid-semester exams will be conducted at many city colleges. With the administration cracking a whip on illegal and unregistered PGs, the students have been asked to vacate the PG premises overnight. Scrounging for a roof over their heads, most students were seen loitering around the parks of the city with their bags.

In the morning, students of MCM DAV College, Sector 36, marched all the way from the fountain at Sector-17 Plaza to the DC Office. Shouting slogans against the administration’s knee-jerk reactions, around 50 students voiced their resentment. “We have an exam in three days and our PG owners have asked us to leave their house. The administration suddenly woke up to raid unregistered and illegal PGs after three girls died. It is for the fear of raids that the PG accommodation owners asked us to leave,” a student, requesting anonymity, said. Soon, many girls joined in: “You talk of woman safety and most girls were thrown out of their PG accommodations at night yesterday. Some of these girls come from faraway places in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Haryana. Where will they go?” they asked. Another girl added, “We have paid full rent for this month and security too, but even then we were asked to leave. In my PG house at Sector 36, there’s no problem of overcrowding. We are three girls, living in a 2 BHK; our PG owner is an elderly widow whose children are settled abroad. She shut down the PG just because ‘she didn’t want to be troubled by the administration’. The knee-jerk reactions of the administration have resulted in creating a widespread paranoia amongst the PG owners.”

Soon, more students started pouring in. A gamut of crowd assembled at the DC Office had invited the attention of the authorities, but it didn’t weaken the administration’s resolve. Students of Panjab University and ABVP activists, including Diksha Bhanot, demanded temporary accommodation such as Haryana Bhawan, Himachal Bhawan, etc, for the students. They maintained that the DC had assured them of the same. Chandigarh ABVP secretary Ajay Sood, said: “We have submitted a memorandum to DHE with the demand of temporary accommodation of students in their respective campuses. The DHE claimed that he has spoken to the college principals on the issue.” However, the students were far from satisfied. Studying at PGGCG-II, a 21-year-old student said: “We are being pressured to vacate the PG for three days now. It’s a 10-12 marla accommodation that houses two persons each in four rooms. The owner showed us a video where the DC is saying that ousted students can be accommodated in Himachal Bhawan and Rajasthan Bhawan. Until there comes a notice in black and white, we aren’t vacating the place.”

Waiting for the storm to pass

Posing as a student, this correspondent contacted PG owners who were ready to offer refuge to the homeless PGs. A woman, who runs a facility for girls at H. No. 1328, Sector 34-C, said: “The Administration raided my PG yesterday and tore down the partitions. There are more than six persons living here. They have their NEET exam soon.” When asked if she could accommodate five more persons, the woman said, “I can accommodate five persons for Rs 400 a night. It’s a hall and I can only give you bedding.”

Ankit, owner of Boys’ PG at H. No. 1119 of Sector 34-C, too, agreed to adjust the correspondent’s younger brother at his PG. “I’ll charge Rs 15,000, laundry and food included,” he said.

In conversation with students of coaching institutes at Sector 34, it was learnt that several PG owners had asked their guests to leave the house for the day and return at 10 pm. One of the boys shared, “I am staying in a hotel right now, some of my friends are with their local guardians, but I don’t have anyone here. My PG owner asked me to come back on March 2. He said, things will settle down by then.”

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