IN THE light of the firing incident that happened at Panjab University in April this year and the unregulated entry of outsiders inside the university campus, the Chandigarh Police is likely to recommend against conducting student elections this year. Due to the increased involvement of political parties and the consequent participation of outsiders during the elections, the police have ascertained that there are chances of increased violence this year if the student elections are held.
Sources in the Chandigarh Police state that “even though we have not issued any official recommendation yet, we are definitely against conducting the student elections since these lead to more violence”. The university is unable to prohibit entry of outsiders inside its hostels and premises. Each time any raid is conducted in the hostels, “outsiders are found, which only increases during elections”, they add.
Due to the increased instances of violence inside Panjab University, the Chandigarh Police has been recommending that a biometric system of entry be implemented at the varsity, but nothing has been done in this regard. “We have informed the PU authorities time and again that a biometric entry system should be implemented at the university hostels and the campus. In addition to this, we have also asked the authorities to ensure that there are sufficient CCTV cameras inside PU, all of which must be functional at all times. These are two basic requirements for ensuring lesser violence inside the campus,” said DSP (Central) Satish Kumar.
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After the recent firing incident in which three students were injured, the PU authorities have taken steps to restrict the entry of outsiders. For students and staff of the university, entry is allowed on the basis of ID cards and stickers issued by the university, whereas entry of outsiders is being checked.
“This definitely is a positive step in ensuring more security, but it isn’t a foolproof mechanism. Outsiders can still be found inside the university hostels, and there is no way to ensure that any person entering the university is not carrying any weapons,” a police official told Chandigarh Newsline.
Immediately after the firing incident at PU in April this year, a raid was conducted by the police at the boys’ hostels, and 34 outsiders were found staying illegally at Hostel No. 4. In another raid conducted before the student elections last year, over 70 outsiders were found staying in the hostels.
PU’s Dean Students’ Welfare Navdeep Goyal maintains getting an approval from the Chandigarh Police is crucial for conducting the elections. “Before dates for the elections are announced, a communication is sent to Home Secretary for approval. The Home Secretary considers the recommendations of the Deputy Commissioner and Chandigarh Police before granting the approval. Hence, if an official communication is issued by the police against conducting the elections, the university will not conduct the elections.”
The student elections at PU are conducted around August-September each year. For this purpose, a letter is sent to the Home Secretary for approval as soon as the new academic session commences.
However, student leaders of PU have been opposing the idea of not conducting direct elections at the varsity. “As students, it is our right to hold free and fair elections for electing a student leader. Violence needs to be kept in check. Just because one student or a party decides to resort to violent measures, others shouldn’t suffer. Prior to elections, the university authorities should take an undertaking from all parties that whichever party is found indulging in violence, their candidates will be disqualified,” said Manoj Lubana, a student leader at PU.
Direct elections in Punjab colleges
IN July last year, a PU committee had recommended to the Punjab government that direct elections be conducted at all the 184 PU-affiliated colleges across the state. The recommendation was also supported by various political parties in Punjab, but the state government has still not given its approval for the suggestion.