With his third-year examinations around the corner, engineering student Raj Chavhan (name changed) finds himself out on the streets. The youngster, who was residing at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Boys Hostel of Social Welfare Department (SWD) at Yerawada, was forced to leave by the rector, who asserted that he wasn’t following the rules and regulations of the establishment set by the state government.
Raj, who hails from Nashik, has no alternative arrangement for accommodation and was forced to spend a few nights on the footpath. The youngster has alleged that he is facing action only because he, along with 40 other students, objected to the poor quality of food provided by the hostel contractor.
“On January 15, I wrote a letter to the rector about the abysmal food we get in the mess. Through that correspondence, I had requested Jadhav sir to take action against the contractor. At that time I had no idea that a month later I would be rusticated from the hostel,” said Raj.
On February 25, the rector issued a notice (MiD DAY has a copy) to Raj and asked him to vacate the hostel immediately by handing over all the accoutrements of the hostel, including books, bedding etc. Raj clarified that he had to spend the next couple of days on the footpath. Now he spends his day in a nearby government library, and bunks with friends at night.
A law student at the hostel who knows Raj for the last three years, on condition of anonymity, said, “Cancelling a hostel admission overnight is simply not acceptable. Even if the administration thinks that Raj’s behaviour was not appropriate, even then he should have been issued advance warning or notice before being handed the final letter to vacate the hostel.”
“Raj comes from a poor family. His father passed away a few years ago and his mother lives in a small village in Nashik district. The hostel administration should have taken all these points into consideration before taking such a harsh decision,” he added.
On the other hand, rector Santosh Jadhav claims that despite repeated warnings, Raj persisted with his misbehaviour and he had to evict him to maintain discipline in the hostel, after receiving final approval from assistant commissioner of SWD Ravindra Kadam-Patil.
“Ever since he was admitted here a year ago, Raj was constantly arguing and fighting with either the mess contractor or his roommates. Several times he demanded a separate menu for lunch and dinner. I had no option but to take strict action against him in order to maintain a cordial environment in the hostel. He is academically poor too. He had been admitted to the engineering course in 2008, and he has failed twice in his final exams,” Jadhav said.
In spite of repetitive attempts by MiD DAY, assistant commissioner of SWD Ravindra Kadam-Patil remained unavailable for comment. Incidentally, there are two factions of students in the hostel – while one has supported the rector’s decision, the other has disputed it.
“There is absolutely no problem in the hostel. We get good quality food here. The rector, who took charge last year, is very cooperative,” said Vajir Shekh, a third year BA student. Sahil Mulla, a third year diploma student, who is the mess committee chairman, also supported the rector.