Caste violence prompts Bihar to close SC/ST hostels

Upset over frequent reports of tension and clash between students belonging to different castes, the Bihar government plans to dismantle its SC/ ST, OBC and minority hostels in a phased manner.

On January 29, more than 25 students of the Saidpur hostel under Patna University attacked students of Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare hostel. The clash resulted in three students getting injured. The Welfare hostel, run by the SC/ST Welfare department, houses over 150 SC/ST students from class XII to post graduation.

In June last year, more than 12 students of Ambedkar hostel in Ara were attacked soon after the killing of disbanded Ranbir Sena chief Barmeshwar Mukhiya.

Common water and power connections are the apparent causes of tension between the students of Welfare and Saidpur hostels. Welfare hostel students often complain of power and water connection being cut by the residents of Saidpur hostel, which has more than 500 students, mostly belonging to the upper caste Bhumihar community from central Bihar.

HRD Principal Secretary Amarjit Sinha told The Indian Express: "We have taken serious view of the clash on caste lines between the two hostels. There have been similar incidents in the past as well. Though these hostels are not under our administrative control, we have prepared an internal report to dismantle caste hostels at school and college levels and reserve seats for SC/ST and minorities in general hostels." He added that there have been complaints pertaining to the segregation of students.

The SC/ST department manages two hostels in Patna — one for girls (Welfare hostel, Magadh Mahila College) and the other for boys. The department also runs over 100 SC/ST, OBC and minority hostels at the school level.

Patna Superintendent of Police Jayant Kant said: "We have arrested eight students and booked them under the SC/ST Act besides the IPC provisions for attacking students at the Ambedkar hostel." He said that though there could be some immediate reasons such as water and power connections for such incidents, there's a need to find a long-term solution to the problem.

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