“Criticised” for issuing a notice that referred to Valentine’s Day as a product of the “influence of Western culture” and warned of punitive action against anyone seen roaming around on campus on February 14, the Lucknow University (LU) proctor’s office on Tuesday released a fresh notice which, sans the reference, stated that the university would be closed on ‘Maha Shivratri’, and action would taken against any “anti-social elements” found on the premises.
A notice issued by Proctor Vinod Singh on February 10 stated: “Gat varsho me dekha gaya hai ki pashchatya sanskriti se prabhavit ho kar samaaj ke katipay navyuvak dinaank 14.02.2018 ko Valentine Day ke roop me manaate hain. Iss paripeksha me vishvavidyalaya ke ubhay parisar me adhyayanrat samast chhatra-chhatraon ko suchit kiya jaata hai ki dinaank 14.02.2018 ko vishvavidyalaya mein Maha Shivratri parv ka avkaash hai. Sabhi chatra-chhatraon ko nirdeshit kiya jata hai ki wah ukt tithi ko vishvavidyalaya parisar mein kadapi na aayein (Over the last few years, it has been seen that under the influence of Western culture, the youth are celebrating February 14 as Valentine’s Day. In this regard, all students are informed that the university will be closed on that date on the occasion of Maha Shivratri. All students are directed not to come to the university campus on that particular day.)”
The notice warned, “Uprokta vyavastha ka atikramana kar yadi koi anavashyak roop se vishvavidyalaya ke shaikshanik parisar me ghoomta/baitha hua paya jayega to uske virudhha niyamanusar anushasnatmak karyavahi ki jayegi (If anyone is seen ignoring the instructions and found roaming/sitting in campus, they will be subjected to disciplinary action).” It also alerted parents and guardians: “Vishvavidyalaya ke ubhay parisar me adhyayanrat samast chhatra-chhatraon ke sammanit mata-pita evam abhibhavakon se appeal hai ki ye ukt tithi ko apne palyon ko vishvavidyalay parisar me na bhejein (We also appeal to the parents/guardians of students not to send their wards to university on that day).”
The notice further stated that no extra classes, practical exams or cultural programmes would take place on February 14. Asked why a fresh notice was issued, Proctor Singh attributed the move to the “criticism” faced over the mention of Valentine’s Day and references to western culture. On the earlier notice, he said, “Unwanted incidents can take place any time. Most of the incidents take place because of western (culture) and some organisations. We did not want any conflict…Last year, there was no holiday and no unwanted incident took place. But this year, the university will be closed due to Maha Shivratri and most of the staff won’t be here. In such a situation, we do not want any such incident to take place.”
When contacted, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for higher education, Dr Dinesh Sharma, said, “After getting information about the letter, I talked to the university authorities who told me that it was a routine letter just to ensure that no activity takes place on campus on a holiday.”
Asked about the Valentine’s Day reference in the previous notice, he said, “The university does not have any objections to the celebration of Valentine’s Day, but it is against the obscene and immoral activities happening in the name of it. I have been told that in the past, there were some incidents which cannot be termed as moral… that some people come and do things which are unwarranted. The step was taken in order to stop these things and avoid any conflict.”