DoNER minister intervenes
ITANAGAR, May 11: The recent report regarding 13 girl students from the Northeast studying at Delhi University (DU) who were allegedly being subjected to harassment and racial discrimination by the provost of the North Eastern Students House for Women (NESHW), Prof Rita Singh, has once again highlighted the growing problem of discrimination which students of the Northeast continue to face amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof Singh had earlier asked the students to vacate their hostel by 31 May due to expiry of the mess contract by month-end. The hostel has a capacity to house about 100 students. Thirteen students are currently stuck there because of the lockdown.
Of the 13, four are from Mizoram, two each are from Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Assam, and the rest are from Tripura, West Bengal and Manipur.
On Sunday, union DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh came to their rescue and assured them that they can stay comfortably at the hostel for as long as they wish.
The minister said he had spoken to DU Vice Chancellor, Prof YC Tyagi, regarding the students and resolved the issue. He also said that no one should bother students and put them under any kind of harassment when a nationwide lockdown is underway.
When contacted, NESHW president Christina Ering on Monday informed this daily that it was only after the students had contacted the press and written to the DoNER ministry that the provost sent them an email, stating that they need not vacate the hostel.
“We were told that everything will be provided to us and we will be comfortable. We also received a notice issued by the proctor via mail, announcing that those NE students who had been earlier asked to leave should stay and they do not need to move out.
“Though the issue seems resolved for the time being, we don’t know what happens after 31 May, after the mess is closed. We don’t know what arrangements will be made after the 31st,” Ering said.
Sharing details of the controversy, Ering said, “During the initial days, when cases of Covid-19 were starting to rise, most of the girls decided not to leave because flights were getting cancelled and we were all apprehensive that we might contract the infection on our way home and could spread to it our families.
“However, Prof Singh forcefully asked most of the girls to leave. Of the 100 girls, only 13 girls from the Northeast remained, who by that time couldn’t leave because the lockdown was imposed and their flights were cancelled.
“The provost has been since then constantly pressurizing us to leave and even said that we will not be provided food. Following this, we wrote her a letter, telling her that we will be compelled to file a complaint with the police if she continues to harass us.
“This stopped her for a while, but she again started to harass us by continuously sending us mails, asking us to book trains for our home.
“She even told us that if we do not vacate soon, she would barge into our rooms and throw our belongings outside and make us leave. She told us to submit our room keys and leave. We had no option left but to talk to the press and write to the ministry of DoNER and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) for their intervention.”
Ering also accused the provost of making excuses by saying that one of the guards of the hostel was not allowed to come for his duty because his neighbour had tested Covid-19 positive and hence the hostel authorities were facing administrative problems in hosting the girls during the pandemic.
“The guard’s neighbour was tested Corona positive two days ago. It was detected recently, but she has been asking us to leave much before the lockdown was imposed,” claimed Ering.
She went on to accuse the provost of being a racist who had issues with students from the Northeast.
“She called us ‘junglee’ and questioned our food habits and everything. We also held a protest against her, and when she didn’t stop her harassment against us, we wrote to higher authorities. They told us that the provost is under observation, but no action was initiated against her. All of us 100 girls of the hostel are witness to her tyranny and we have records,” she claimed.
Meanwhile, acting on the complaint from the 13 students, the DCW on Monday asked the registrar of DU to provide point-wise action taken report on the complaint, besides details of the measures taken to ensure safe and comfortable stay of the students in the hostel, including facilities for internet and co-curricular activities in the hostel, latest by 15 May.
“The complaint is extremely serious in nature and requires immediate remedial action in order to ensure safe and comfortable stay of the students in the hostel,” a statement from the DCW read.