Monday, July 13, 2015

In Gujarat capital, when adivasi girls complained of poor hostel facilities, they got abuses, threat, insufficient food

Chart's condition displaying what all girl students
are entitled to tells it all
By Nachiketa Desai
A systematic racket of swindling funds by unscrupulous officials has been brought to light by a group of students residing in the state government-run hostel for Adivasi girls in Gujarat capital, Gandhinagar. The modus operandi for siphoning off funds meant for the Adivasi girl students is simple – deny them food and facilities sanctioned in the state budget.
To make matters worse, if any of the girl inmates of the hostel dares to complain to the warden or rector about the substandard or insufficient food, she is subjected to humiliation and threatened with rustication. “The warden and even the security guard routinely abuse us for having been born into an Adivasi family,” says Shital Rathod, a final year student of biotechnology at the government polytechnic.
The government hostel for Adivasi girls, located in Sector 12 of Gandhinagar, was to open on June 15, when the new academic session commenced. But, the hostel remained close for nearly a fortnight and the students, who hail from the eastern tribal belt, could not attend classes. It was only after the Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM), a South Gujarat social action group, took up the matter with the state government that the hostel was opened.
Hostel toilets
Even when the hostel was thrown open, only 41 girl students of the total 147 sanctioned strength were admitted. “This is because a merit list which was to be prepared to admit Adivasi girls into the hostel, has not yet been prepared”, said a government insider.
Late opening of the hostel, and that too for a limited number of students, and denial of food, is said to be the main method adopted by the authorities to siphon off funds meant for the Adivasi students across Gujarat. Inquiries with Adivasi students in Vyara and Sagbara revealed that the government hostels meant for them have not yet opened, though it is well past several weeks that their colleges have begun the new academic session.
The girls in the Gandhinagar hostel complained of poor hygienic condition, clogged toilets, dirty bathrooms, and choked sewerage. “There are only four taps in the hostel and the water supply comes only for two hours in the morning”, one of them said, adding, “We were asked to supply buckets of water to the staff that comes to clean the toilets and bathrooms.”
“While the authorities are supposed to provide us with utensils, we were asked to bring our own cups and plates, for which we had to spend money. The bedsheets given to us are old and dirty, simply unusable”, said a girl student, adding, Bedsheets are changed only during inspection, and once the inspection is over, the old ones are back.”
While the hostel is supposed to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner, they are being provided only one meal at night. As a result, the girls are compelled to buy food from their college canteen. “I know, we are entitled to get a glass of milk along with snacks in the morning, a practice that was followed when I was living in another hostel in Ahmedabad last year,” pointed out Shital.
One of the girl students said, many of them had ended in spending money on food and conveyance. “Whatever money we have brought was actually meant for buying books and stationery,” she added. “Often, hostel authorities misbehave with us, making character assassination by telling us that we had gathered money to buy up good clothes through unscrupulous means.”
Hostel kitchen
Yet another girl said, “Many of us come from poor background. Our parents are not allowed to enter into the hostel because of the type of clothes they wear. We must meet them only outside. Only those with good clothes are allowed in.”
Meanwhile, the AKSM complaint, which reached the corridors of power in Gandhinagar, has finally made things moving in the hostel. On orders from state tribal secretary RS Meena, assistant tribal commissioner, tribal development visited the hostel last week, as a result of which the authorities began serving morning breakfast, confirmed a girl student.

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