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PU student polls: More polling booths, fewer students this year

In 2017, the student strength was 15,660 while it is 15,350 this year. Six more polling booths, however, will be installed bringing the total to 162 compared to 156 last year.

Written by Oindrila Mukherjee | Chandigarh | Published: September 2, 2018 7:51:56 am
Mounted police personnel of Chandigarh take stock of Panjab University on Saturday. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

The Student strength is down by at least 300 compared to last year as was revealed after different departments submitted their lists to the office of the Dean of Student Welfare (DSW) ahead of the Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) election that will be held on September 6.

In 2017, the student strength was 15,660 while it is 15,350 this year. Six more polling booths, however, will be installed bringing the total to 162 compared to 156 last year. Also, the total number of department representatives to be elected are 124 in 62 departments, of which 35 will be elected unopposed and polls will be held in 27 departments.

With the long weekend ahead, the parties have launched a vigorous hostel-to-hostel campaign. The authorities said the next two to three days were the “most sensitive” and police and campus security along with the help of wardens were working in tandem to keep a check on unlawful activity.

A PCR is stationed at the campus round the clock while police have been spotted in groups of at least five at the Student Centre, said to be one of the “most sensitive spots” in th varsity. Even the wicket gates installed during the vehicle-free campus drive are being manned and anyone entering the university is being asked to show identity papers.

According to the Chief of University Security, police and campus security identify “sensitive spots” before and during the election every year. Before the election, these include boys’ hostels 5, 6 and 7 and girls’ hostels 3, 4, 5 and 6. The Student Centre and department canteens are also on the list.

“This year, we have identified two more sensitive spots. We have been getting reports of a lot of chaos at the physics canteen and the parking lot between boys’ hostels 1 and 2. Our wardens are constantly patrolling the surrounding areas of the hostels and some or the other hostel is raided daily,” said Emanual Nahar, DSW (Men).

A warden, who did not want to be named, said the area near boys’ hostels 5, 6 and 7 were most active at night.

Sources said even the botany department parking lot was used by student leaders to hold discussions at night, but no wrongdoing had been reported yet.

A drive through the campus around 10.30 pm revealed that the lanes in front of boys’ hostels 5, 6 and 7 were unlit. However, street lights were functional in the staff accommodation area nearby.

On the day of the election, however, polling booths and the gymnasium hall where counting will be held are considered “most sensitive”.

“We will have full-fledged security in place with at least 300 police personnel along with over 200 campus security personnel in and around the campus. We will also deploy wardens at the gates of the campus to manage outsiders,” said Ashwani Koul, Chief of University Security.

Nahar said while wardens patrol their respective hostel surroundings, they will help man the gates on election day like every year.

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