varsity suspends classes after soccer violence
The Lovely Professional University (LPU) here Thursday called off
classes for three days following the death of a Mizo student who
was brutally thrashed by three African students during a football
match in the campus.
Chandigarh: A move to
ban protests in front of the Panjab University (PU)
vice-chancellor's office has evoked strong opposition from both
students and teachers who see it as an infringement of basic human
PU, one of the oldest varsities in the country, is the alma mater
of many senior bureaucrats and senior politicians, including Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh.
Marred by frequent protests and sit-in (dharna) demonstrations
near the office of Vice Chancellor R.C. Sobti, PU authorities
recently mooted a proposal to enforce Section 144 of the Indian
Penal Code in front of the office and the administration block.
The law prohibits assembly of five or more people, taking out of
processions and holding of public meetings and protests. After
facing sharp criticism from various quarters, university
authorities softened their stand and appointed a special committee
to look into the matter.
"The need to implement Section 144 was communicated to us by the
chief security officer of the university. In fact I am also not in
favour of imposing it on the campus. An academic institution is a
platform for free exchange of ideas," Sobti told IANS.
He added: "We are not authorised to take a decision in this regard
on our own. But before forwarding the security officer's request
to the Chandigarh administration, we would like to discuss the
issue at our own level.
A special committee has been constituted to look into this matter.
Sunny Mehta, vice-president of the National Students Union of
India (NSUI) here, said: "How can they even think of killing our
basic fundamental right to express ourselves? Peaceful protest and
dharnas are our rights. We are even ready to go to jail to prevent
the imposition of Section 144."
Mehta said there was no need for any committee "to discuss this
There have been many instances when activists of various students'
organisations erected tents and held hunger strikes and sit-in
protests outside the high-security office of the vice-chancellor.
On many occasions they even tried to block Sobti's official car.
The ban proposal has not found much support.
"Imposition of Section 144 inside an educational institute and,
that too, without any valid reason is totally unacceptable. The
vice-chancellor cannot dictate things as per his own convenience
and he has to take everyone along," a senior faculty member told
But there are students who are in favour of imposing Section 144.
"These protests are mainly politically motivated and do not relate
to students' welfare. We come here to study and not to protest. We
want Section 144 to be implemented so that this university can be
free of unnecessary protests and dharnas," Nishita Aggarwal, a
student of law, told IANS.
"A university is not a politics battle-ground and we have to
maintain its sanctity," endorses Baldev Sharma, whose two children
are studying at PU.
PU authorities are contemplating earmarking a dedicated place for
both students and other associations to stage their protests.
Talks are on to earmark the parade ground in Sector 17, the
commercial hub of Chandigarh, for protests. It is over 2.5 km from
This has also invited mixed reactions.
"Allocating a special place for protests is again illogical. Any
protesting organisation wants to make its voice heard. Protesting
kilometres away from the decision makers does not make any sense
and we strongly oppose it," Kanwaljit Singh Sidhu, another student
leader and a research scholar, told IANS.
Sobti said: "If it is only a question of distance, then I assure
you that not just the parade ground but even the gates of the vice
chancellor's office are too far when it comes to solutions. It is
through dialogue that problems are sorted out, not through dharnas."
Manmohan Singh did his graduation and post-graduation in economics
from PU in the 1950s. Later he joined the university as a lecturer
and went on to become a professor at 32.
Nearly 11,000 students, including over 70 percent women, study in
around 70 research and teaching departments of PU. The university
is spread over 550 acres covering Sectors 14 and 25.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)