Both Sinhalese and Tamils turned away, say students and professionals; recent agitation has made their situation worse
A month ago, when 19-year-old Samaara approached a hostel in Egmore for a room, the owner assured her she could move in by March.
The student of literature from a reputed arts college in the city did not know then that it would only take a series of protests in the city to change the hostel owner’s mind.
“When I went there last week, they said they wouldn’t take in Sri Lankans. When I told them they had promised me accommodation, they said the situation was different now, and that they had even evicted a Sri Lankan student without giving her any notice,” she said.
Samaara’s story is not unique. Landlords and hostel owners across the city are wary of renting their homes and rooms to Sri Lankan students or citizens, believing it will get them into trouble.
“I then approached anther place that took in paying guests. Here too, the owner did not give me a room, but was sympathetic. She said the police would have to check her premises if she let it out to me and that she wanted to avoid the hassle. It is very difficult to convince people here that we are not fugitives,” said Samaara.
It is not just Sinhalese students who are denied accommodation — the bias extends to all Sri Lankans, students say.