Varanasi/Hyderabad-When a student secures admission in an institution away from their hometown, one of the foremost challenges they encounter pertains to accommodation. The affordable hostel facilities offered by these institutions often serve as a crucial lifeline, mitigating numerous logistical hurdles for students. Nonetheless, it is essential to recognize that not all students are granted accommodation. A closer examination by The Mooknayak reveals a striking disparity: while OBC students at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are grappling with the absence of reservations in hostel placements, students from various backgrounds find it notably easier to secure lodging at Hyderabad Central University (HCU).
The students at Banaras Hindu University have been demanding reservations in hostels for OBC (Other Backward Category) students on the campus since 2018. This year, the students have intensified the movement for reservation in the hostels. According to information received from an RTI filed by students at Banaras Hindu University, BHU received around 450 crore rupees between 2008-09 and 2012-13.
With this money, the university constructed around 4,200 rooms in 29 hostels at BHU. Despite all this, the university is yet to implement the 27% OBC reservation in the hostels. The RTI also reveals that around 4,000 students enroll every year, in addition to the students already enrolled. This means that 52,000 students have been denied reservations in the hostels of the university over the last 13 years. This is a long-standing issue. A student said, “The university administration dithered by assuring us that they would implement it from the next session onwards, etc., but nothing has been done since.”
However, the administration, which had assured the students last year that they would implement the reservation from the next session onwards, has now done a volte-face by citing a letter from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which says that the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in admission) Act, 2006, does not authorize the Central Educational Institutions for reservation in the admission in hostels. The letter reads, “Reservations in Central Educational Institutions are governed by the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in admission) Act, 2006. It may be noted that the Act has not authorized the Central Educational Institutions for reservation in admission in hostels.”
More than 4,000 rooms were built using the funds under the OBC grant. The Mooknayak spoke to Vishwajeet Rai, a student of Banaras Hindu University belonging to the OBC category. He asserted that the word “faculty” in the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in admission) Act, 2006, means that it is inclusive of the hostels and there is no separate need for mentioning hostels. The second point he notes is that under OBC grant, 450 crore rupees between 2009-2013 were released for the university, and out of that fund, the administration built more than 4,000 rooms in 29 hostels; the administration should provide reservations in these hostels.
Reacting to the argument of the administration that the funds received under the OBC grant are not meant for OBCs only, he said that even if we accept this argument, at least 1,000 out of the 4,000 rooms should be earmarked for OBC students, as the funds were received because of the implementation of the OBC reservations, and had it not been implemented, the funds would not have been released.”
The Mooknayak spoke to Jeetendra Kumar Yadav, another student of the university, who said, “The OBC students coming to the University belong to financially weak families, and on getting admission, they face the challenge of shelter, and the accommodations outside the university are quite unaffordable, and this proves to be a big hindrance in their studies. He says that if Allahabad University, Central University of Jharkhand, and other such central universities like Hyderabad Central University can provide reservations in hostels to OBCs, then why is the BHU administration waiting for the approval of the Social Justice Ministry to provide reservations to the OBCs.
Speaking on this issue, Kiran Kumar, the President of the All India OBC Students Union, told The Mooknayak, “OBC Reservations were implemented in Central Higher Education Institutions (HEI) since the 2007-08 academic year. OBC Grants were distributed under the 11th and 12th Five-Year Plans for the Recurring and Non-Recurring expenditure. A lot of funds are allocated for Hostel Construction across HEIs. But many universities diverted such funds to other activities. This is the reason for the non-allotment of hostels to OBCs. The present issue of non-allotment of hostel facilities to OBC students is a gross injustice to more than 3,000 plus socially, educationally, economically backward classes in this country. The BHU administration must immediately address this serious issue. This is happening in the Constituency represented by the Prime Minister of India. If the prime minister cannot solve this issue in your own constituency, then how will you solve issues at other places? We demand the Prime Minister to intervene and do justice to OBC students.”
He further said that the Vice Chancellor of the University should also have a broader mindset, and even if the secretary of the Ministry is saying that there is no reservation according to the Central Higher Education Institutes Act, the VC should take proactive steps to provide reservations for OBCs in the University.
It has been observed in most educational institutions that very few students are able to occupy the hostels, and the rest of the students have to look for accommodations outside the campus. But Hyderabad University has accommodated every student in hostels, and there is no pending demand.
The Mooknayak spoke to some students of Hyderabad Central University to know their opinions. Pratyush, a student enrolled in the MA Sanskrit course at the university, belongs to Sambalpur in Odisha, around 1,000 kilometers from Hyderabad. He said, “I was allotted my room the day I took admission, and the room rent is a minimal Rs 500 for one semester, which comes to around Rs 100 per month; while for the hostel mess, we have to pay Rs 2,500 per month.
Shiv Kumar, another student who belongs to a district in Telangana, said, “The food in the mess is very good, and on Sundays and Wednesdays, they provide special food.”
Kiran Kumar, the President of All India OBC Students Association, also happens to be a student leader at Hyderabad Central University. He said, “This is possible because of the construction of more hostels in different hostels, so if (suppose) we have 5,000 students, then we have 5,000 rooms also, and it is not only for OBCs; it is for all category students. Whoever gets admission in the campus will get accommodation. Attributing this to Bahujan Politics,