For women hostellers of Presidency University, the two days of Dol and Holi were spent inside the four walls of their hostel building. Reason? An “unofficial” diktat by the college authorities stating that the hostel gates will be locked on 1 and 2 March (the days when Dol Yatra and Holi was respectively celebrated in Bengal) and no student will be allowed to enter or leave the premises.
The students who wanted to leave the hostel premises had to take prior and special permission from the Assistant Superintendent and, as per students, only if they wanted to visit their parents. The students also had to ensure that their parents speak to the Asst Superintendent before they could be granted leave.
The students say that this is not the first time that such a rule has been made during Holi. Last year too, the hostel was shut during the day for the occasion and re-opened around five or six in the evening. But that was only on the day of Dol Yatra and not for two consecutive days, as is the case this year.
One of the main points of dissent raised by the students is the fact that there was no “official notice” for the shutdown. The diktat was communicated through word-of-mouth by the hostel guards and students. The authorities, however, put up a notice on the evening of 1 March, after the students had been under lock-down the entire day, stating that they would be allowed a relaxation period between 4pm and 6pm on 2 March.
The hostel curfew on other days is at 9:30 pm and the gates re-open at 6 am the next day.
There are students who don’t have cash. Some need medicines. Others are not stocked up on food. Some people who developed allergies because of the colours had to go and take special permission just to go to the medical store. Why should we be asked to stay indoors on a day like Holi?Mandira Mahali, first year student of Presidency University, to The Quint
Others have called it out as a patriarchal move which is looking to “protect” women from the “unsafe” streets.
We are around 185 girls who are all over 18 years of age. We can take our own responsibilities. Why is there a need to “protect us” by putting us in this patriarchal prison?Bhumisuta Banerjee, Third Year, Philosophy
Other students have highlighted how the decision came due to certain nefarious activities that had taken place around the hostel right before Holi. “But why is the answer to that locking up women?” they ask.
The Assistant Superintendent said there was some chaos around campus that happened on Wednesday and the police got involved. Previously, that too on just one day, people were allowed to go out after 5 pm. This year it was locked for two days! I had to take special permission to go to the medical store which is less than a minute away from our hostel. Moreover, every girl didn’t know about this. Only those who spoke to the guards were informed.Twisa Burma, Second Year, Statistics
“We have tried contacting our superintendent who is on leave on a medical emergency. We couldn’t contact her, but we have now been given these relaxation hours,” said Nandita Das, the general secretary of the Presidency Girls’ Hostel, who was also informed of this decision through the guards.
The Quint has contacted the Presidency University administration for a response.