10 January, Kathmandu. Before 10 am on Tuesday, students wearing aprons gathered in front of the office of the Dean of the Institute of Medical Sciences and the head of the Maharajganj campus.
On Monday, in the name of the hostel reform group, a leaflet was prepared with the words ‘The head of the campus who harasses his own students by cutting off electricity and water’, ‘How long will there be chaos in the hostels’, ‘Students cannot’ Did it Being a victim of mental harassment by coming to the hostel again and again, ‘not desire, it is compulsion’, was stuck. The campus principal and dean’s office was locked.
When the police team came to open the lock on Tuesday morning, they gathered to stop it. The policemen tried to move forward and the students tried to stop them. Clashes broke out as tensions escalated, with the police cracking down on the medical students. Some were overpowered and put in the van.
According to the girl students, the hostel dispute is not new. Police arrest was also no solution. So the campus administration called the protesting students for talks. “Despite the agreement, the campus administration will do nothing to improve the hostel,” complained a student.
What is controversy?
More than one thousand students are studying in various faculties under MBBS and Paramedical in Maharajganj campus under IOM.
The campus has been providing subsidized hostel facilities for the students for almost four decades. To stay in the hostel, you have to pay only 4 thousand 500 rupees per year. Accommodation is available after paying this amount. You have to pay according to the amount for the food. The campus administration was running A, B and C blocks for hostels for a long time. But despite the increase in the number of people seeking hostel facilities, a new building has been constructed, named as D and E Block.
Hostel Management Committee had allotted D&E block for girls hostel. Since only 64 out of 200 girl students have hostel facilities, it has been agreed to give E and D block to provide hostel facilities to more girl students.
But the boys were sitting in the block reserved for girls. The campus administration said they are staying voluntarily. According to the students, more than 250 students are staying in the hostels of all the blocks. According to the figures of the campus administration, only 80 people are living legally in all the blocks, the rest are living voluntarily.
Last time, the campus administration had issued a notice to the violators to vacate the hostel by January 10. But when the hostel was not vacated, the lockout and sloganeering started. Coordinator of Hostel Management Committee Dr. Rahul Pathak.
‘Now more than two-thirds of the seats in the hostel are seen vacant. But when going for check-up, all were full,’ Dr Pathak said, ‘Students on the list to stay in the hostel are being beaten up.’
According to him, apart from the 80 people who are legally sitting, 125 people are on the betting list for admission. But unlike the regular students, the sitting students have not left the room. He said earlier, ‘Water supply is not connected to E and D blocks. The campus administration is not functioning as a hostel. It would be wrong to go and live on your own, and complain that the management is not good!’
The campus administration alleges that the students have protested under the guise of fraternal organizations of political parties and demanded that they be allowed to stay in the hostels.
Students question the administration only. ‘The building here is empty. Nor is the admission process opened for staying in the hostel.” Navraj Devkota, who is studying in the third year of pharmacy, said, “People in the administration have placed people on the basis of their acquaintances and preferences. Even after studying for three-four years, I could not get a room.
The protesting students say that the campus administration tried to evict them even when they stayed in the vacant building. Another protesting student told Online News, “To evacuate us, the administration is cutting off electricity, giving us mental stress and exhausting us by telling us to fail in exams.”
The protesting students in the name of hostel reform group have demanded that 100 per cent hostels should be provided to the students. The campus administration says that it is no longer possible to arrange hostels for all the students.
Counter demand of protesting students, now D and E block should be properly arranged. If there are not enough seats in the on-campus hostel, it has to be booked elsewhere for a similar fee. To stay outside, the cost of a room comes to 5-7 thousand. From where can we students of remote areas give so much money?’ Another student who attended the protest told online news, ‘The campus administration had to make arrangements for hostels! If the hostel cannot be managed inside the campus, then the campus should rent the building and manage it even if it is outside.’
They argue that they can leave the hostel only after the administration publishes the list of hostel inmates. Now the campus administration has decided to evict the students living in D and E block. Where will we 80 go? On the condition of anonymity, a student says, ‘This is not just the problem of the students, but our movement is against the misbehavior happening in the hostel.’
They argue that the campus administration should take responsibility for this as the government has made it mandatory for 75 per cent of the students to have hostels. Dr. Srikrishna Giri, Vice-Chairman of the Medical Education Commission, says that there is no provision for compulsorily arranging hostels in the campus. Hostels will be arranged according to the capacity of the campus. We have not fixed this provision to make it universally accessible.
Photos: Chandra Bahadur Ali / Online News