High drama was witnessed outside the Panjab University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Raj Kumar’s camp office on Monday, after members of the syndicate, hoping to converge a meeting in the open, reached the university premises, only to find all parks, venues, and halls locked.
Awaiting a meeting since July, members of the Syndicate, whose term ends December 31, have been demanding that a syndicate meeting be held immediately. While the Vice-Chancellor has called for online meetings at least twice in September, members have refused to attend it, instead calling for a physical meeting.
On Monday, at least ten members of the 15-member body which includes the VC, decided to hold a meeting themselves. Finding no place where they could conduct it, the syndics reached the camp office only to find it barricaded and locked.
“Such treatment to the democratic government of a university is not expected. We are not common criminals, where after hearing of our arrival, the office was barricaded and gates were locked. I have not once seen such behaviour in the past 30 years of my experience of being on the Senate,” said Dr Rubinder Nath, a member of the syndicate.
It was only after the members raised voices, that the VC came out.
“He has given us no satisfactory response. Our term is coming to an end on December 31 and just as the senate he wants to do away with the syndicate for good. He kept telling us he has no power and that he too was answerable to someone. He also kept saying that we should wait till situation is better, but everywhere else, democratic setups have continued despite the pandemic. There is now a pure dictatorship at show in the university,” added Nath.
The indefinite delay in senate elections have raised apprehensions of the dissolution of syndicate body as well, soon after the current syndicate’s term ends this year. The members have been demanding a say in the university’s affair- as the constitution of the university demands, but to no avail.
“He (the VC) has been passing all orders without any approval from the Syndicate, citing decision in anticipation of approval of syndicate. But that decision will only come when we are allowed to hold a meeting. He is no chief executive to stop a syndic meeting, as he too is only just a member of the body. He enjoys no supreme powers. Citing this one line, he has placed his favourites at all offices including the controller’s office,” alleged Nath.
Seeking a way out, the body, on Monday, also decided to write to the university chancellor, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, to intervene in the matter.
Several officials, including Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, leader of opposition, Sukhbir Singh Badal, have written to the university Chancellor, calling the delay in polls ‘a death of PU democracy and the beginning of an autonomic rule at the varsity.’ However, the Chancellor is yet to take cognizance of the matter.
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