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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Two constituencies go to poll amid protests joined by Lakha Sidhana

The election of the two constituencies of affiliated arts colleges in PU Senate were held across Chandigarh and Punjab.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
August 19, 2021 7:47:30 am
Protesters outide the PU VC’s residence on Wednesday. (Photo: Jasbir Malhi )

AMID A huge protest march led by the students and other stakeholders of Panjab University, two constituencies of the PU Senate went to polls on Wednesday.

Different student organisations, Senators, professors, artists, and activists from the farmer’s protest around Chandigarh took out a protest march from the V-C Raj Kumar’s office to VC house to record their rage regarding the suspension of Graduate Constituency Elections.

The election of the two constituencies of affiliated arts colleges in PU Senate were held across Chandigarh and Punjab. These constituencies will elect eight members each to the senate body.
With a total of 2,432 voters, as many as 11 candidates are in fray from the constituency of heads of arts colleges while 15 are in the fray for the constituency of teachers. Turnout percentage of 96 per cent and 91 per cent was recorded for both constituencies, respectively.

Different speakers addressed the gathering outside VC house. The main demands of the protest march were to conduct the Graduate Constituency elections immediately and reopen the campus for all students. The Graduate Constituency forms a crucial part of the senate as its members represent students and scholars of the university.

“Postponing elections is a criminal act and PU authorities have shown utter disregard for democratic structure of Panjab University and brought bad name to our university,” said Rabindranath Sharma, former senator.

Amitoj Mann appealed to all to be united at a time when Panjab University is under direct attack from BJP-RSS. Prof Sukhdev Sirsa in his address supported both the demands and asked the VC to behave like an academician and not take orders from the BJP.

Students organisations said that they have been forced to reach the varsity and protest.
Lakha Sidhana talked about the degradation of the varsity to an extent that the stakeholders have to sit on roads for elections.

It is interesting to know that Lakha Sidhana has been accused of violence during protests earlier, including the Red Fort incident. The UT Police was clueless about his presence at Wednesday’s protest.
Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA) President Mrityunjay Kumar reiterated the undue delay caused in the working of the university due to the absence of senate. “The Sangh has always served corporate interests. They have no contribution in freedom struggle and they are trying to do the same to our university,” said Kumar.

Ex-senator and Senior advocate DPS Randhawa warned authorities saying, “Elections have already been suspended four times but even if you suspend them 40 times, we will not back down.”

Apart from this Harjot Singh, Malwinder Kang, Sonia Mann, Dr Jagwant from Punjab and Chandigarh college Teachers Union, Dalvir Goldy, MLA from Dhuri, Punjab also demanded the immediate election of Registered Graduate Constituency.

Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal who initiated in-sit protest for conducting immediate election appealed to all to join the indefinite protest, following which SOI, SOPU, SFS, ASA announced that they are joining the indefinite protest.

The voting was postponed on August 13 by the university authorities citing lack of permissions to hold the elections.

Issuing a notice in this regard, university had stated that Office of two of the seven states and UTs where polling happens, Delhi and Uttarakhand, were yet to give the nod and space for polls to be conducted.

Even Haryana, supposed to have 29 booths, had lapsed on giving permission for at least seven booths, stating they are being used for Haryana Staff Selection Examinations. Punjab too, in a letter dated August 10 had reportedly communicated to the varsity that “the schools have opened only a few days ago and senate elections happen to be on a working day” and had requested the varsity to either choose alternative dates or reschedule for a holiday.

“Therefore, due to circumstances stated above, which are beyond the control of university, competent authority has ordered to postpone, for the time being, the election of Registered graduate constituency,” the notice read.

The senate body elections have been pending for a year. They began on August 3 and were supposed to end on August 23.

The elections for faculties are now scheduled for August 23.

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