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Students celebrating Holi in Kolkata. [Representational Image]Reuters

A couple of hostels under Delhi University (DU) issued a notice barring women from stepping out of the hostel on Holi claiming that the it was an "arbitrary" move and that the decision was taken "in the best interest of residents." The decision invited sharp criticism from students who have called it "illegal confinement."

The International Student House for Women (ISHW) under DU issued a notice that said: "Holi is a festival of colours. To make it enjoyable for all of us, following decisions have been taken in the interest of residents. Residents and female guests will not be allowed to leave or enter the premises from 9 pm on March 12 till 6 pm on March 13. No late night permission will be granted on March 12 and those desirous of playing Holi should go outside the residential block within the hostel premises."

The Meghdoot Hostel also issued a notice, which said that "the main gate will remain closed from 6 am to 5:30 pm on March 13" and that all students were prohibited from consuming "any narcotic drugs in form of thandai." It added that the students must not return to the hostel late in the evening on March 12.

Women students lashed out at the authorities for issuing such a notice. "This is not for the first time. Every year, women students across colleges and universities are forcefully confined inside hostels on the main day of the festival," a hostel resident was quoted by DNA as saying.

Devangana Kalita of the Pinjra Tod campaign, a group of students fighting against discriminatory rules for girls in university hostels, told the Press Trust of India: "What else can one expect from a government and administration keen on drawing the Laxman Rekha for women? The rise in sexual violence and harassment that women experience on the streets around Holi is barely addressed and instead once again, women are locked up for their own safety and arbitrary restrictions are imposed on their mobility."

Last week, the Pinjra Tod group had also protested outside the office of the Women and Child Development Ministry in Delhi against Maneka Gandhi's statement supporting hostel curfews for school and college students of both genders to protect them from their "own hormonal outbursts."