Parking Mafia runs amok in college campuses

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By Sanchita Garule

Fed up with paying exorbitant parking fees at colleges, a group of students in Pune will soon move the Bombay High Court to end extortion on college campuses under the garb vehicle parking fee collection.

Mohammad Saif, a student of Fergusson College along with various other students started ‘No parking charges’ campaign. The fight is related to the illegal activity of collecting parking charges from the college students who park their vehicle in the college premises. When the students pay their fees and the colleges get grants from the university why is the parking charges expected from the students?

Keeping the grants from the university or the fees paid by the students aside, there were various other problems faced by the students. Many girls faced mental and physical harassment by the people who collected the parking charges. We named them the ‘Parking mafias’. There have been cases where in these mafias have stuck dirty pictures on girls’ bikes and have written dirty messages on their pay slip which they rarely gave. When asked to file a police complaint against them these female students were scared and let things go as these mafias were all cheap gundas.

There were no constant charges applied. The charges kept varying person to person. For example if a person was new to the college these mafias didn’t hesitate taking 10 rupees from them. If the same person gets out of the college for some purpose and comes back again he was charged twice. Same thing happened with the students of Fergusson College. There is no security for the vehicles, no shades, improper flooring and many more things.

The increasing cases made Mohammad Saif and his companions take action against them. When complaints to the authorities and loving, patient behaviour didn’t work 5 of the concerned students (Mohammad Saif, Sanchita Garule, Tejaswini Janjire, Ruturaj Raut and Aftab Khan) of different colleges met Vasudev Gade,the vice chancellor of Savitribai Phule Pune University on 29th of August 2014. They got good response from Mr Gade and he said “We will appoint committee to look into the matter”.

Right after the meeting a bullock cart rally was organized on the 22nd of August 2014. About 50 students from various colleges participated in the rally which further continued by submitting letters related to the problems faced.

The students who were fighting against this issue faced various problems by the mafias.

Harassment, menace phone calls, destruction of their personal vehicles and much more. Such cheap activities didn’t pay heed to the students. The fight continued and is still going on.

An RTI response from Pune university stated that students can be charged Rs 3 for whole day and they can also avail Rs 50 monthly passes. But this rule is not being followed. The students will file a petition in the Bombay High court soon.

The parking attendants at Azam Campus even threatened of dire consequences when he asked for to see parking contract, as they were demanding more money. An occurrence report in this regard was filed with cantonment police station on October 31.

Mohammad Saif said, “We are the students of Azad Hindustan. Such menace won’t stop us in the middle of this fight without getting any satisfactory answers. Democratic fight will continue till the end.”

Mohammad Saif is the founder of ‘I Care’ which is basically a group of socially aware students, (formed after the approval by Pune City Commissioner and DCP of Special Branch-1) who aim at being the voice of the whole student community at large. We believe that issues of any kind need to first be voiced out, to begin with. They need to be heard by the right authorities and solved by mutual understanding and co-operation. Our concentrations shall be on the following factors:

1. Making students aware of their rights and responsibilities through discussions, lectures, public meetings.

2. Grievance redressing cells for all students in all colleges.

3. Means of Accommodation for new, non-local students.

4. Every day student problems like transport, parking.

5. Tackling Harassment of female and new students.

6. Vacation/ peak time transport facilities.

7. Simplifying methods and transactions for foreign students.

8. English improvement sessions for students from different backgrounds.

9. Involvement of foreign/non-local students in mainstream student life. Make them feel at home.

10. Training modules for students regarding leadership, personality development, gender sensitization.

(Sanchita Garule is a MSc Environmental science student from Fergusson college, Pune.)

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