For Dushyant Kumar, a student of CPS in the School of Social Sciences it was far from celebration as he finally got allotted into the ‘new’ Teflas dormitories in August last year. In response to growing pressure from JNUSU pertaining the ‘legendary’ hostel crisis on campus, the Dean of Students Office (DSO) decided to reopen the dormitories for newly enrolled male students. The alleged death of a scholar having contracted dengue was reported to have been the reason for its closure formerly.
“It was awful- there were two halls what seemed like a storage space for a theatre group, the water coolers didn’t have their filters changed, most of the glass windows were broken and shockingly, there were no bathrooms”, stated Dushyant when asked on the conditions of the newly allotted dormitories.
Teflas also called the ‘Student Activity Centre’ houses the headquarters of the International Students Association (ISA), the JNUSU office, a restaurant, badminton courts and rooms for music and the arts; it was no place built for accommodation. As more and more students were allotted the dormitories, living in shanty conditions became a shared struggle and solutions were not always satisfactory.
“With no aid provided from the DSO we were compelled to take baths on the open roof terrace and insufficient toilet cubicles didn’t leave us with an option but to use the ladies’ washrooms”, mentioned Pawan Harsana, a student of CSSS.
Just when carrying buckets and towels across the street to Narmada hostel became a routine ritual, the coming of the winters witnessed rising cases of mosquito infestation in the dormitories. Shashank Tiwari, another CPS student told us that JNUSU Joint Secretary, Saurabh Kumar Sharma provided significant help in clearing up the scruffy rooms and supplying mosquito coils. He further mentioned that seven cases of dengue were reported back-to-back and living with uncertainty in the dormitories became the everyday.
On 26 October 2015, disappointed with the administration, the dormitory residents occupied Teflas grounds in protest, demanding immediate action. A temporary solution to move the residents to a much cosier and ‘liveable’ music room was then made available. In a quest for decent accommodation, this move was a significant progress for the dormitory residents.
Not long had the residents gotten used to the comfort of the new room that an eviction notice in request to evacuate Teflas and move to the newly constructed Damodar wing was pinned upon on 11 January 2016. The residents were given no alternative option but to leave within a given time frame. The challenges of living in the Damodar dormitory included a week of no mess facilities, unclean rooms and going through application procedures all over again.
The lives of these dormitory residents has been that of struggle and adventure; eight more residents remain from the initial 17 who await hostel allotment. “Despite having gone through rough times together, there is always something to be thankful for- we’re a family now”, shared Pawan Harsana.
Sharmi Palit is student of CSSS.
Dhaval Bhate is a student of CSSS and works for the Informer.