ICCR in its defence said that foreign students are adviced to stay in government recommended hostels because of security issues.

Give our allowance good hostels international students camp outside ICCR office in protest
news Thursday, September 08, 2016 - 21:43

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) office in Bengaluru on Thursday witnessed sudden protests by around 50 international students who camped outside the office demanding payment of their rental allowance. 

The students, who study in different colleges in the city, have alleged that ICCR has not been paying them their rental allowance amount since July this year. 

As part of the government's rules, students need to compulsorily stay in government recommended hostels during their first year in college. 

They are given a scholarship of about Rs 5,000, including for stationary, during these 12 months. If and when the students leaves the hostel after a year, they are also provided with a Rs 5,000 rental allowance separately. 

However, several of the international students left the government recommended hostels before completing their first year in college. According to these students, the living conditions in these hostels were very poor forcing them to move out. 

Kunal (name changed), a Bio tech student in a city college, came to Bengaluru from Bangladesh last year. He too, like the others, signed the document which stated he had to live in the government recommended hostel for a year. 

Sitting outside the ICCR office, Kunal says that conditions were so bad in the hostel that he shifted out in May this year. "We want our full allowance," he said. 

Rosy (name changed), who is a Kenyan national, described the problems she faced in the hostel she was staying in. 

"The hostel did not have proper water. Sometimes we did not even have water to take bath. There were frequent power cuts. The conditions of the rooms we were staying in also were not good. Besides, five to six people were using one room," she says. 

ICCR in its defence said that foreign students are adviced to stay in government recommended hostels because of security issues. 

Venugopal, Regional Director of ICCR, Bengaluru, said that following some incidents of dispute between locals and foreign nationals in the city this year, they received an order in July from the headquarters in Delhi informing them of security risks. 

The order, he said, also stated that students would now have to live in the government appointed hostels till the end of their courses, and not for just one year according to the previous rule. However, no mention was made of the allowances in the order.

"We know that the students were not happy with the condition of the rooms. This is a high priority issue and the government has to look into it as soon as possible," he said adding that only the government, and not ICCR, can take a decision on this matter. 

Meanwhile, as on Thursday evening, the students camping outside the building had also got blankets for the night. 

Aarif (name changed), who is from Afghanistan, intends to protest until he gets back his allowance. "We know tomorrow is a bandh, but we plan to stay here as long as we can. Every time we went to them asking to give us the money, they made some or the other excuse. This time we will stay here till we get our money," he said. 

Kunal, who is co-ordinating with the officials of ICCR said, “We won't feel good if we leave now. The officials are telling us a representative from Delhi will come and speak on September 15. We realised that she will be in Bengaluru for a function on that day and not for us. This is the kind of interest they are showing. Why should we leave? We are going to stay here though there is a bandh tomorrow.” 

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