Panjab University Students For Society (SFS) on Thursday said it was opposed to the UGC decision to observe September 29 as “surgical strike day” and said it smacked of “aggressive pseudo-nationalism” while both the BJP-affiliated ABVP and Congress-affiliated NSUI lauded the move. The Left-leaning group, which won the president’s post at the Panjab University Students’ Council in the recent elections, stated that this was a “manipulation of students by the UGC to serve the interests of the government in power at the Centre” that wants to promote its own agenda.
The SFS has often been dubbed “stone pelters” party and “anti-Army” by other student organisations such as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and other parties. SFS spokesperson Hassanpreet said, “The BJP government has used the armed forces, be it soldiers at Siachen, BSF, Kashmir forces to divert the masses from their corrupt scams and anti-people/student policies. By observing such a day, it is preparing the ground to propagate more hatred.”
The ABVP stated that such events should be observed “all 12 months of the year”. “It is a great initiative to respect our brave soldiers. Some anti-national organisations are constantly trying to defame our armed forces in educational institutions; we have seen that two years ago when the SFS called the Indian Army rapists at the Student Centre. Common students should be educated about what the Army is doing for us so that they can feel proud,” said senior leader Harmanjot Singh Gill.
Anuj Singh, the NSUI presidential candidate this year, said, “I am proud to be an Indian and I am grateful to the Indian Army for serving with immense courage and valour and safeguarding the entire nation. Their sweat, blood and lives have ensured that the masses enjoy a peaceful environment within the nation. Any such initiative that acknowledges the sacrifices of our soldiers must be organised with zeal. It’ll ignite a sense of patriotism among the youth.”
PU officials said they were yet to receive the UGC circular. “The V-C is in Delhi for a meeting, so he wouldn’t know if such a letter has arrived. Even the secretary to the V-C is not aware of any such circular yet,” said DPR Renuka Salwan. But the circular, dated September 20, and addressed to all the vice-chancellors have been uploaded on the UGC’s official website.
Registrar Col G S Chadha (Retd) said, “Neither have I received a circular from the UGC nor have I been informed about it, but such circulars are available on its official website. If it has come out today, then the physical letter will take time to reach us.” The UGC has recommended activities such as talk sessions by ex-servicemen on the sacrifices by the armed forces, special parades, visit to exhibitions and sending greeting cards to pledge support for them.
“The NCC units of all universities should organise a special parade on September 29 after which the NCC commander shall address them on the modalities of protection of the borders. The varsities may organise a talk session calling ex-servicemen to sensitise students about sacrifices made by the armed forces,” the letter on the website says.
The NCC coordinator of PU, Kuldeep Singh, said the UGC circular had not reached him. Talking about the kind of parade that would be conducted, he added, “We have different kinds of parade for separate occasions, sometimes also involving arms. Since I don’t know whether it’s a celebration or tribute to martyrs, I cannot say what kind of parade we will organise.” He further stated that as and when the notification arrived, he would forward it to the NCC Group Headquarters in Sector 31 and they will prepare the cadets accordingly.
Student organisations at PU also expressed their thoughts on the matter. Condemning the move, the SFS called it “aggressive pseudo-nationalism”. The party stated that this is a “manipulation of students by the UGC to serve the interests of the government in power at the Centre that wants to promote its fascist agenda”.