Once again Jamia Millia Islamia University administration is facing flak from the women hostellers of its newly constructed Jammu and Kashmir hostel of the University for not meeting their ‘basic necessities’ demand. Around 200 residents of the women’s hostel protested from evening till wee hours of April 29 and raised their basic demand of being allowed to have coolers installed in their hostel rooms in light of the intense heat of Delhi summer, especially during exam time. The girls said that they are willing to install the coolers on their own but the hostel administration needs to provide electricity connections for the same.

The Protest Leads To Broken Gate Locks 

Misbah, a first year student who is studying Masters in Biotechnology from the university spoke to SheThePeople.TV about the protest and the key challenges that they are facing. “Since March the girls have approached the administration and requested them to allow them to install coolers in the hostel rooms because of the growing heat but the administration kept neglecting our demands at first. Then they said that wiring isn’t adequate to install so many coolers in the hostel and so it cannot be done.

After we saw the indifferent behaviour of the hostel administration we decided to propose that they get an alternate wiring connection installed that would only support the coolers but they did not even hear our proposal and postponed their response,” she said. She further added, “They said that they will hear us on Monday but they didn’t take any step even on Monday—the day designated by them to respond to our demands—so consequently the protest erupted. The girls gathered in the hostel compound at the time of attendance. We refused to mark the attendance in order to show our resentment.”

This led the provost to come out and talk to the women residents of the hostel. She allegedly said that the administration will install two coolers in the corridors. Misbah said that installing coolers in the corridor wouldn’t make sense as it would create humidity and none of their rooms will be exposed to the coolers.

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As the protest proceeded into late hours, the students broke the locks of the hostel gate and marched towards the main gate of the university till early hours of the morning. Apart from the cooler issue, the girls are also demanding better food quality in the mess, revoking of curfew timings and questioning the hostel code of conduct which imposes ‘dressing appropriately to visit the mess’ that the administration wrote in a circular among other matters.

Delhi Heat Taking A Toll On Hostel Students

“We also want to question the administration about them trying to exercise control over our mobility, bodies and sexuality and that we won’t accept it. Let this protest be a mark of discontentment against these issues as well,” said Misbah.

Delhi is a place where no one can survive at least without coolers in the scorching heat. It becomes very problematic as we have our semester exams approaching. Moreover we have reading halls which doesn’t have an air conditioner but the hostel warden’s room has an AC.

Another student, Babrah Naiko, who is also a first year student and is studying Masters in Journalism, said, “Delhi is a place where no one can survive without coolers at least in this scorching heat. It becomes very problematic as our semester exams are approaching. Moreover, we have reading halls which doesn’t have an air conditioner but the hostel warden’s room has an AC. Why didn’t the administration ensure proper wiring before allotting the rooms to us? We pay equal amount of fees as any other hostel yet we are deprived of basic amenities here.”

Jamia has a total of six women’s hostels and one boys’ hostel all of which have adequate electrical wiring allowing students to install coolers in the rooms except the J&K hostel. The administration and warden’s rooms are fully air-conditioned while the hostellers have to survive the sweltering weather dependent on the fans. We tried to reach out to the university’s provost Sabiha Zaidi but she refused to comment and the Chief Proctor Haroon Sajjad also wasn’t available.

“Over the last 4 years women students of the university collectivised and struggled for their demands and dreams, against the curfew, against fee-hikes, against sexual harassment, for their right to a dignified education! The resistance continues our voices will not be caged anymore!” said Pinjra Tod in a statement.

Picture credit- Pinjra Tod

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