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Monday, August 02, 2021

Student groups demand withdrawal of committee report which limits Panjab University’s territorial jurisdiction

Students also demanded immediate elections to the Senate and Syndicate which have now been on hold for more than nine months on the pretext of the pandemic.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
July 13, 2021 5:31:39 am
At Panjab University on Monday. The protestors from YAD and SOI also demanded immediate elections to the Senate and Syndicate. (Photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

AT LEAST a hundred members of the Youth Akali Dal (YAD) members and Students Organization of India (SOI) Monday held a protest dharna in Panjab University demanding immediate withdrawal of the report of the High-Level Committee on governance reforms along with the assurance that no college affiliated with the varsity will be disaffiliated from it.

They also demanded immediate elections to the Senate and Syndicate which have now been on hold for more than nine months on the pretext of the pandemic.

The youth activists also demanded an undertaking from the Vice Chancellor Raj Kumar which states that the territorial jurisdiction of the University will not be rewritten and that the elective and democratic character of the Senate and Syndicate will not be tinkered with. While submitting a memorandum to the V-C, the protesting students pointed out that “PU is not a central varsity and the charge of Chancellor of the varsity was given to the Vice President as an interim order,” adding that “this charge should be transferred back to the Punjab Governor.”

In view of Monday’s protest, gate number 1 of Panjab University, which has remained closed for several months now, was opened. Police force in large numbers was also deployed in the premises.

The activists also held a huge dharna in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office holding placards stating ‘Save Panjab University’ and raised slogans of ‘Punjab naal dhakka band karo.’

The protest was led by Parambans Singh Romana, YAD President; Bhim Waraich, SOI patron; Robin Brar, SOI President, and Chetan Chaudhary, PU Students Council President.

“The Vice-Chancellor is working as per the BJP-RSS agenda to change the curriculum after making the Senate and Syndicate redundant as per the ideology of RSS to influence the minds of the youth,” alleged Parambans Romana, while addressing the students and appealing to them to unite to defeat this “diabolic conspiracy.”

He also questioned the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for being silent on an issue.

He also announced that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal would lead the fight to ensure that the university’s character is not changed to suit anybody’s interests. Romana urged all opinion makers including writers and singers besides NRIs to unite to ensure the history of the ‘pirs’ and ‘gurus’ of Punjab was not rewritten. “We cannot afford to be silent”, he said adding Punjabis will not forgive anyone who did not rise up to right this wrong against the entire community.

Stating that the V-C was working as per a plan, the YAD chief said, “Immediately after his appointment, the VC installed RSS workers on all top posts in the varsity. Since the Senate and Syndicate were coming in the way of changing the academic curriculum, elections to both bodies were not held after the end of their terms.”

Simultaneously, an 11-member high-level committee was constituted to secure recommendations as per the dictates of the RSS lobby, added Romana. “This committee did not include a single member from the Senate or the Syndicate and has gone on to recommend limiting the territorial jurisdiction of the University to the municipal limits of Mohali. This means the University wants to disaffiliate 200 colleges situated in Muktsar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur and Moga districts,” he said.

Stating that the Committee had also recommended replacing elected bodies of the Senate and Syndicate with dummies, he said, “Under the new proposal the Senate, which comprises 15 members elected from the registered graduates’ constituency, will be whittled down to four members all of whom will be nominated by the V-C. Similarly in case of the Syndicate, which is the highest decision-making body of the University, the new proposals aim to reduce the strength from 18 to 13 which includes ten nominated members and three ex-officio members. Presently all 18 members of the Senate are elected.”

Threatening to intensify their agitation, the protestors have given PU authorities a week’s time to assess their demands and withdraw the committee’s notice. “If our demands are not adhered to, we will gherao V-C residence and not let him move out. Today we had only gathered from Chandigarh but if the demands are not met with, we will call youths from across Punjab and have no doubts, that they will come,” said Romana talking to The Indian Express.

Covid norms, including wearing of masks and social distancing, were give a miss during at the protest site.

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