The 27-day protest by students of the Panjab University (PU) against the proposed fee hike came to an end on Saturday, after the PU Senate decided to form a new committee to look into the issue and prepare a new proposal regarding the fee structure.
The decision was announced following intense debate among the Fellows for three hours, which was interspersed with heated arguments. Though listed at number 43 on the agenda, the recommendations of the Fee Committee on increasing the fee of regular courses by 20 per cent and self-financed courses by 10 per cent, were discussed immediately after the annual budget of the varsity was passed.
While announcing the decision, vice-chancellor (V-C), Professor Arun Kumar Grover said, “Keeping in mind the observed lacunae in the recommendations, we refer the issue to a new committee which will be constituted for the purpose. There could be some enhancement in the fee as per the students’ interest, or there could be no fee hike ever.” The decision also led to the calling off of the hunger strike by one of the students, Ramininder, who had been on indefinite hunger strike since March 12.
The discussion began after the Dean Student Welfare, Professor Navdeep Goyal presented the draft proposal given by the PU Campus Student Council (PUCSC) seeking roll back of fee hike. Following which the members of the fee panel which had proposed the fee hike expressed their views. Ranging from the approval for fee hike by PUCSC representative in the Fee Committee meeting to no fee-hike by the varsity in the last six years, the fellows argued over various aspects of the issue.
While some Fellows including DPS Randhwa and Varinder Gill, highlighted the sensitivity of the situation and demanded complete roll back of fee hike and the agenda items. Others argued that the varsity cannot be taken to ransom by student organisations.
“Majority of the varsity students are okay with the fee-hike, it is only these 50-odd students who are demanding it. Not only this, they forcibly asked students to boycott classes. This is unacceptable,” said Professor Shelly Walia.
Taking strong note of the lathi-charge on students, majority of the Fellows demanded passing of a resolution condemning the ‘brutality’ of the police. However, the V-C said that he has already written a letter to the SSP seeking an enquiry into the case. “I will also meet K K Sharma, Advisor to the Admnistrator and IG R P Upadhyay and pursue the case of FIR against nine students,” he said.