The frequent incidents of violence reported at Panjab University this year appears to have dampened election enthusiasm this year. With polling for the new student council polls only a week away, the atmosphere on the campus remains palpably tense. With the increased police presence at potentially explosive areas such as outside the vice-chancellor’s office, barricades put up everywhere and visitors frisked at PU gates, the campus has begun to wear a grim look.
Only a few students can be seen canvassing for votes on the campus this year with only the University Institute of Engineering Technology witnessing some poll activities, if at all. Even the Students Centre, usually the centre of action during student polls, remains largely deserted.
Student leaders attribute the subdued atmosphere on the campus to the lack of leadership and mushrooming of new student outfits. “Earlier, leaders used to take up serious issues. While the NSUI still retains its old leaders, most of the other groups have new people who are only there to gain publicity,” said NSUI leader Manoj Lubana leader.
Meanwhile, with PU officials stepping up vigilance, students are now complaining about the inconvenience it causes. “While violence continues unabated on the campus it’s students like us who have to pay the price. We’re stopped at the gates for a thorough search every time we enter the varsity,” said Gaurav, a law student.Students now constantly live in fear of the next violent incident on the campus. “Earlier, elections were fun and the run-up to polls was always colourful. Now there is hardly any fun element left. One doesn’t know when and where a fight is likely to break out,” said Ruchika, an economics student.
Meanwhile, with the election dates announced, police presence has become more visible on the campus, especially around the UIET, the law department, the dental sciences college and the Students Centre.