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Hostel, or guest house?

A students’ hostel is meant for students. However, Madrasah Elliot Hostel seems to be meant for outsiders. Established in 1896 to accommodate the students of Calcutta Madrasa College, the three-storied building was constructed as a mark of respect for the life-long services of Nawab Abdul Latif Bahadur for the cause of Muslim education in Bengal. Elliot Hostel now seems to have become a guest house providing shelter to anybody who can pay the rent.

In 1950, Madrasah college’s administration was defunct as the administrative power was transferred to Dacca after the creation of Pakistan. It was then that the administrative control of the hostel was given to Maulana Azad College as it was attached with the Baker Hostel of the college.

Students allege that some former students of the college who have been living there illegally for the past15 to 20 years, have converted it into a guest house. "Taxi drivers, hawkers contractors and labourers stay in the hostel by paying rent to the boarders who have become self-appointed custodians of the premises", says a boarder.

There are 41 rooms in the hostel, out of which 37 are for boarders, four students each room. There are over 350 people, against 148 seats, allege boarders. When asked about a solution, Md Moniruzzaman says, "after the administration of the madrasah was revamped, we asked the government time and again to hand over the charge of Elliot Hostel. Till now the government has done nothing about it. All problems are due to this. This may be the only hostel in the country being controlled by the head of another educational institution.This is against The Bengal Educational Code of 1931." 

Sarfaraz Alam , a student of class XII in the Madrasah College says , " we are threatened by outsiders all the time. We are scared." It is evident from this statement that outsiders have let loose a reign of terror in the hostel. All this spoils the sanctity of educational institutions. Evicting these people who have been living here for the past 20 years is not easy as they have the support of some political parties, local people and anti- socials. It is a question of right of the students and rule of law which has to be taken seriously.

¯ Md. Shahid Rafique in Kolkata

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