Gujjar and Bakarwal Girls Hostel was started in the year 2012 and in absence of its own building, it changed places. Eventually, it got shifted to its present location in the year 2014 on a rental basis. The building is fenced by low walls, fallen at at-least two points. Concertina wires try to check any intruders at the wall-less points even as the walls are too low to check any trespassing. There are a total of 7 rooms occupied by 85 boarders. At the top of that, there is only one bathroom that is shared by the boarders and the staff of the hostel. The dining hall has no chairs and is too small for all boarders to have meals at the same time. The building is also devoid of any common room or study room. There is no medical facility available too.
Farzana Akhter, a ferocious debater and a student of class 12th rues that until two years ago; they had to fetch drinking water from a spring nearby and also clean the hostel themselves. ‘That’s what we did back at homes too’, her concern sounds obvious. After repeated requests and nudging by the present Warden, the hostel got a water-connection and a sweeper on temporary basis. The warden, Mrs. Kaniza Bi, is on deputation basis. She has no DDO power in absence of which she cannot bring the positive changes that she dreams of. All powers including financial ones lie with the Warden Gujjar and Bakarwal Boys Hostel. The whole intention of women empowerment seems failing here.
Last year, the government enhanced the intake capacity of G&B hostels. And in addition, converted all the hostels to residential schools. Even though it is intended for a good cause, it further added to the woes. There is no infrastructure for classes, no laboratories for practical classes, no staffroom for teachers. The only library in the hostel comprises of two almirahs stacked with few books that too have to be squeezed in Warden’s room for there is no possible separate space for them.
‘I had a difficult time inculcating reading habits among boarders for they always hesitated to come to my room for books but it was worth it’ the Warden says. Newspapers have been made available and to evaluate the knowledge-base, quizzes on current affairs are a regular practice now. Two boarders namely Asma Choudhary from Jhulas and Zafra Khanum from Naka Manjhati topped a district-level quiz on Social Sciences, one of the first feats for the tribal boarders. Parvez Akhter from Shahpur and Aabida Shakir from Marhote, added more feather in the hostel’s cap by securing the first position in their school’s Mathematics quiz competition.
The Warden did not receive her salary for nine months but that does not deter her to create a studying atmosphere in the hostel, despite many infrastructural hurdles. She hopes that things would better once the hostel shifts to its permanent building at Banpat village, which is expected in a few days. But she is not very optimistic for the new building has windows without iron-grills. The new building is not fenced. There are no classrooms for in-house classes and no quarter for Warden. The innumerable letters to the administration have yielded nothing to ease her concerns.