Updated: April 2, 2021 4:59:01 am
THE BREWING tension between Punjab University and its students over the closing of the institution’s A C Joshi Library came to a head Thursday as almost a hundred students broke a lock to enter the outer section the reading room.
An official statement issued by Panjab University said: “…in an effort to continue dialogue with students related to opening of PU library, the authorities asked students to send five representatives whereas students were insisting on nine members to come for the meeting. The authorities kept on waiting for two hours but no one turned up. Thereafter, there was a protest at the administrative block after which they went to the library and broke open the lock of the reading room. A police complaint has been made in this regard. Thereafter, with the help of police, reading room was locked.”
The university authorities had recently announced that the library would be closed amid the rise in Covid cases, citing a UT Administration order. Since then, for more than a week, PU students have been protesting — demanding reopening of the library — in the form of an indefinite protest. As the official date of closure (March 31) approached, the protests intensified.
The students, in a press statement, said their entry into the ‘out zone’ of the library was a ‘victory’. The statement said: “Students waited for authorities to conduct the meeting to resolve the issue but when no message came even after two hours, students carried out a march towards the administration block and occupied it for an hour. Here students decided to enter the outer section of AC Joshi Library and were successful. It was historical victory of students who showed both patience and bravery for the last 9 days. We have created history by opening outer section of our library despite shameless shut down by authorities. Our dharna will continue until the library is opened. Students are requested to continue their studies in the outer reading hall and support the dharna. Library will be opened 24×7. Students would themselves run the library and continue their protest.”
Questioning the motives of the university authorities, they said: “PU authorities are using the wrong pretext for not opening PU. It is now well-known that the UT Administration has not issued any guidelines to PU and has stated that PU is an autonomous body. Shutting down AC Joshi Library is just a matter of ego of PU authorities. Authorities from the very beginning have cited the UT Administration order for closing the library in view of Covid-19, whereas the UT Education Director Rubinderjit Singh Brar in a press statement clarified that they had never passed any order for PU library. The order clearly stated that it was meant only for colleges and schools where the classrooms were open. Yesterday, students had given the call to reclaim AC Joshi Library as unreasonable shut down notice period expired on March 31.”
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