The Panjab University faculty members criticised the Senate members for their absence during the April 11 violence and putting the blame completely on the vice-chancellor. Former Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) president Akshay Kumar said: “Where were the Senate members during the protest.
No one from the Senate was there to explain the logic behind the fee hike. People who speak on the Senate floor for long hours were no where to be seen when the students raised the demand for an emergency Senate. The faculty members have no role in the decision-making process of the university. The Senate and Syndicate have all the powers and they should have explained their stand.”
Before the protest turned violent on April 11, the Senate members should have talked with the protesting students and stopped the matter from escalating, said professor Raunki Ram. A senator himself, Ram said: “What is lacking within us is the commitment towards the civil society from all the stakeholders of the Panjab University. We should have shown interest and talked with the students on the day of the protest. It would have eased the situation.”
The campus is abuzz with the talks that the central government or the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) have succeeded in their objective of creating a ruckus by putting pressure on the university to increase fee and they knew that there would be a backlash from the students.
Mohammad Khalid, PUTA president, said: “We understood the intention of the officials. The MHRD officials, representing in the Board of Finance (BOF) meeting, said the university needed to increase the income, knowing it well that it can be only be done by increasing the fee. They have succeeded in doing it and putting pressure on the top brass of the Panjab University, especially the vice-chancellor.”
Another senior professor of Panjab University said: “Being overly dependent on the police intervention has led to the problem, which is very unfortunate. Blaming the vice-chancellor is not fair as he is doing every bit possible. But the Senators who are in the governing body are the people responsible for the clash and for the violence. Since there was a demand for an emergency Senate meeting, the Senators should have made it a point to meet the students and give them reasons for the hike. They have failed to do so for the longest time because of their mafia behavior.”
Kumar further said: “Since the call was for an emergency meeting of Senate, they should have put their point across the students. The situation on April 11 was the result of frustration that had developed over a long period of time. Similarly, the MHRD has failed miserably in resolving the issue of PU financial crisis. A grant of Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore is nothing for the central government.”