New Delhi, Aug 9 : Raj Gogoi made his way from Assam to Delhi to seek admission in Delhi University’s (DU) Ramjas College a year ago. Yet, Gogoi did not anticipate the harrowing experience that was soon to follow.
As he searched the length and breadth of the varsity campus and other surrounding areas for accommodation, he was either turned away or asked for an exorbitant amount as rent — nearly twice the normal charge.
“I had to pay Rs. 11,500 for a room that was available for Rs. 6,500 to students from this part of the country. I found this accommodation in the Vijay Nagar area after searching for nearly one month,” he said
The story is the same for thousands of students from the Northeast who flock to DU each year. While the North Eastern Women’s Hostel partially took care of accommodation needs for women students of the Northeast, no arrangement was made for men.
“Landlords ask for high rents. They don’t even refund our security deposit. The property dealers, too, charge very high rates. The university needs to provide some alternative accommodation facility for boys too. Unlike other students, we can’t go home frequently during holidays and accommodation is very important,” said IK Salam, a student of Kirori Mal College.
Yet, even if students from the Northeast manage to find accommodation, their troubles are not over. Students said that because there was no rent-control or regulation in place, landlords charged whatever they pleased.
“The biggest problem we face is finding a landlord who will give us a rent agreement. There are a number of times when we need this document but the landlords are just not ready to part with it. On top of that, we aren’t allowed to cook what we want even after paying higher than usual prices,” said Timothy Chongthu, whose parents moved to Delhi from Manipur in 1980s.
However, house owners claimed that most of their experiences of renting out houses to students from the Northeast had turned sour after several episodes.
“I had rented out my flat once to three boys from Assam. They got into drunken brawls often and smoked and drank in the house. The police had come and hauled me up for misconduct in my building. Since then, I have not rented out my property to such students,” said Raj Mehta, who lets out rooms to students in the Vijay Nagar area.
Too high a cost to pay
Rajeev Sonowal, Second year, Hindu College
New Delhi: For Rajeev Sonowal, who’s from Assam, a first attempt at finding accommodation soon landed him in trouble.
Sonowal looked for places in Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar, Mukherjee Nagar and Kamla Nagar for accommodation, before frustration hit him.
“Some house owners in the campus area told me that they had ‘slabs’ for rent and that it was highest for people from Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. I refused to believe it and questioned them only to be thrown out,” he said.
Yet, it did not end there for him. His appearance led to landlords questioning him about his “hobbies”. “Some of them told me that people from the Northeastern did not have good habits and, because of the adjustment problems, it was slightly difficult to rent out houses to us. It took me three weeks to get a house,” he added.
An auto ride difficult to forget
Lhusino Sale, law student, DU
New Delhi: Whenever Lhusino Sale takes a ride on an auto-rickshaw, she is reminded of a horrifying incident last year that shook her completely.
The 22-year-old, along with two other friends, had taken an auto from Sarojini Nagar to North Campus. Four men on motorcycles started to follow them.
“They were calling us chinkis and asking us to go with them. They followed our auto till we reached Karol Bagh, taunting and threatening us all the way. We managed to lose them after we passed Karol Bagh. It was one of the most horrifying nights of my life. I did not go out for months after that,” said Sale.
Sale’s mother in Nagaland gets nervous every time a molestation or rape is reported in the city.
“She calls me every time she reads any such news. I have to lie to her and tell her that I live in a safe area in Delhi,” says the resident of Indra Vihar near North Campus.