New Delhi, May 15 : Bharat Bansari, a second year student of Delhi University’s Venkateshwara College who took his minimal belongings along while returning home for his mid-semester break in March, is now worried about his baggage he left behind in his rented accommodation here.
However, the concern is not that he left some important book for his curriculum or the baggage would get damaged or stolen during the lockdown, but the real cause is his piranha-esque landlord who is threatening him to pay the rent or else “he will throw out his belongings.”
Speaking to IANS over the phone, Bharat said, “We had gone back to our homes for the mid-sem break in March and got stuck here due to the lockdown. Most of our belongings are lying in our rented flat in Delhi. We had already paid for the rent for the month of March but when April began, the landlord began calling us asking for rent. She also threatened us saying that till the time our belongings are here, we have to pay the rent for each day and if we refuse to do so, they will throw out our luggage.”
“When we said that we will take legal action, they said that they aren’t afraid and the same would only be problematic for us as we have our studies lined up. I then called up the Students Tenant Union (STU) who helped me,” Bharat said.
However, Bharat is not the only one who is troubled by his landlord but there are many others who are dealing with similar issues.
Sachin, who is a first year student at St Stephen’s College who too had returned home for the break also received calls from his landlord. “They threatened me to pay the rent saying that if I fail to do so, they will throw my baggage on the road and would also beat me and my friends when we return home,” he said.
Though the students are dealing with this crisis, the Students Tenants Union has come as a blessing to the students.
Varkay Parakkat who is heading the organisation and is also a student activist from Students Federation of India (SFI), said, “I along with other students formed a students tenant union three to four weeks ago. We established it to address the long term problems of the students though in this pandemic we are dealing mostly with this problem where students are being forced and threatened to pay rent in such an economic crisis.”
“First complaint that we got was from some people we knew about a very famous and old PG in the Mukherjee Nagar area. We went to the spot, informed the landlord about the Delhi government orders but she refused to accept any argument, so we approached the police,” said Kriti, who is also an activist belonging to the organisation.
Parakkat informed that so far 50 calls have been recieved addressing complaints of around 70-80 students.
The union has diffrent teams including a case handling team, a legal team and another which handles the complaints which works hand in hand to solve the problems of the students.
Recently, they sent a letter to Cheif Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking him to waive the rent of student tenants until the lockdown is lifted.
The union has not only put forward the demands of the students but also asked the government to pay a compensatory amount to the landlords, who are dependent only on the rents for their survival.
“Since many students are facing issues related to the payment of rent and eviction, we request the concerned authority to issue a revised order as soon as possible and explore the possibility of a rent waiver for students and compensation to the landlords by the government for the period of the lockdown,” said the letter.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has so far booked at least eight people for violating government orders. FIRs were registered against eight persons in Mukherjee Nagar under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.