Hyderabad: WhatsApp forwards with a communal angle have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. With the restrictions on the lockdown getting partially lifted, forwards which are unrelated to the pandemic are also gaining traction. One such forward that has been going viral, especially in WhatsApp, is an image of hostel, claimed to be a JNU hostel, where 'no Hindus or other religion' students can stay. But is this claim true?
The viral WhatsApp image of the hostel is being forwarded along with a message:
"This is not a five star hotel. This is hostel constructed by Congress government in 2012 for JNU students from J & K. It has 400 rooms.
In this hostel, no Hindus or other religion can stay. Islam students f on JK will stay free of cost ad study here on the cost our whole Indian tax payers money.
After completing the course, they will shout slogans against Indian nation. What a secular party is Congress?"
However, a closer look at the image proves that the claims are FALSE. Firstly, while it claims that the image is of a hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, the image is from another hostel in an entirely different university, that is Jamia Milia Islamia University, located in Delhi. A Google reverse image search brought results of the hostel in Jamia.
The image is of the J & K hostel in Jamia, which was inaugurated in the year 2017. Contrary to what is claimed in the message, Muslim students CANNOT stay free of cost in this Jamia hostel for their studies. In addition, the hostel is not restricted to students from Jammu Kashmir or Muslim students, in general. Further, a Google search of the Jamia J & K hostel showed that it is a women's hostel. An article published by The Hindu confirmed that the plan for the hostel was initiated in the year 2012, after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Jamia Milia Islamia University.
Although the hostel caters to female students from Jammu and Kashmir, students hailing from other states can also stay in this hostel, provided they submit an application. The official website of the university identifies the hostel as "newly built 700-bedded hostel for bonafide female students of Jamia Millia Islamia."
Hashmat Naiyareen, a second-year Mass Communication student at Jamia Milia Islamia University, also confirmed that all the claims in the message are false. "I am a student from Bihar, but I stay at this very same J & K hostel. Several non-Muslims, non-Kashmiri students also stay here. Plus, nobody stays here for free. I have paid Rs 15,000 per semester as hostel fees, including food and accommodation for this hostel," she said.
Vrinda Bakshi, another student and resident of the J & K hostel, said that there is no bias in the selection of students to the hostel. "I have been staying in this hostel since the past one-and-a-half year and there has been no religion bias whatsoever. Anyone can submit an application for hostel accommodation. The authorities will take an interview, where they consider the distance of the students' home-state from the university and allot rooms. The process is lengthy and takes around 2 months. This message is fake and forwarded with communal intent," she added.
Thus, all the claims in the message are FALSE. The J & K women's hostel in Jamia is home to female students from various states and religions, and does not provide accommodation for free, as claimed in the WhatsApp message.