KARACHI, Jan 14: The hostel culture, once popular in Karachi, is fading fast and will perhaps cease to exist in the years to come.
The hostels had not only accommodated students from other cities but also the local students. Unfortunately, some of these hostels have been taken over by the law enforcement agencies depriving the key educational institutions of their assets.
A few of them having historical importance were: Sevakunj Hostel, located in Arambagh (Pakistan Chowk), which was basically meant for accommodation of the students of Dawod College of Engineering and Technology. Another was Mitha Ram Hostel near the D.J. Science College and the third one was Jinnah Courts Hostel at Dr Ziauddin Ahmad Road, which had been in the use of students of Sindh Muslim Law College. The later two are now in the use of Pakistan Rangers and the former one remained occupied by Frontier Constabulary for a short while. Now, the Sevekunj Hostel too has been closed.
The Government College of Technology had its own hostel in the SITE Town, which too is in use of Pakistan Rangers now-a-days.
Aiwan-i-Quaid-i-Azam, Aiwan-i-Iqbal and federal hostels were with the University of Karachi in the past. Thousands of students had the opportunity to continue their studies while staying at the hostels with the NED university, Dawood College of Engineering and Technologies and Jamia Milia College. The railway hostel at Kalapul had also accommodated the outsiders.
At present, the University of Karachi has only two hostels; one for female students and the other for foreigners. The rest of needy students now have to hire flats in the city, while those unable to pay the monthly rent have to say goodbye to their regular studies.
The hostels had been closed down in late 80s after some bloody clashes among the student groups. Maximum of the boarders were studious, but only due to some of the miscreants the administration forced universities and colleges to close the hostels.
Only the administration cannot be held responsible for the closure of hostels, but the students and especially those involved in the active politics were equally responsible for creating the problems. Instead of concentrating on their studies, they targeted each other and resorted to firing, which resulted in killing of fellow students on many occasions in various campuses.
Many provosts of Karachi University hostels did try to oust outsiders and the trouble-makers, but it was the weakness of law enforcing agencies which failed to check the entry of outsiders that resulted in closure of the facility.
Hundreds of students from other provinces and interior of Sindh during their study tours used to visit the University of Karachi and avail the hostel facility almost free of charges.
The Sevakunj, Mitha Ram, Jinnah Courts hostels offered free services and many of their residents were ex-students doing jobs. The hostels also housed reading rooms, where students could read dozens of daily newspapers and periodicals, but all these facilities were withdrawn.
Owing to negligence of the concerned authorities, a number of other institutions have been changed into barracks. The spacious building of the Monotechnic Institute, Baldia, is one such example which has reportedly been closed due to lack of teaching staff. Now, it has been handed over to the Rangers.