Agitated parents blocked traffic on National Highway 1 opposite Lovely Professional University (LPU) to protest poor arrangements during the Punjab Pre-Medical Entrance Test-2015 (PMET) conducted on the university campus, on Sunday. Over 15,000 students took the test for admission to various undergraduate medical courses, conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, on the LPU campus, the lone centre for all of the state.
Protesters claimed that the paper had been leaked, special treatment was given to VIP candidates and the exam was delayed to benefit a certain set of students. The exam started at 11:45am instead of the scheduled 11am and students were given three hours.
Parents also claimed that with the administration and the BFUHS authorities failing to make arrangements to regulate traffic, the highway saw a massive jam, leading to delay in students reaching the venue.
Most students and parents coming from the Majha and the Malwa regions reached the LPU main gate by travelling 3-5 km on foot.
Struggle and chaos at LPU entry gate
With guards at the LPU gate disallowing entry to students reporting after 10:30am, there were arguments and protests. However, when a few cars with red beacon atop, purportedly carrying aspirants, were allowed in, parents objected and their wards were also allowed in on the intervention of BFUHS authorities. There were reports that a few students could not make it due to the jam. However, a BFUHS release said only one girl student reported at 1:30 pm to appear in the examination, but was denied entry as half of the examination time had been over by then.
BFUHS vans allowed in after closing of gates
There were loud protests by parents when two BFUHS vans, carrying test takers, were allowed to enter the gate at 11:30am after an announcement on the final closing of gates had been made. This ‘special’ entry was the tipping point that led the parents to protest against the BFUHS management, causing a 5-km traffic jam around the LPU that was lifted only at around 3pm.
Some members of the LPU staff were seen using cell phones outside the exam centre. Some invigilators were also seen using phones. Protesters raised slogans against the state government and the Badal family and demanded the cancellation of the exam.
University denies favouritism, rules out re-test
Rubbishing all allegations, BFUHS vice-chancellor Dr Raj Bahadur said the test had been conducted in a fair and transparent manner and there was no need for a re-test.
“LPU was selected as the venue because there is no other central place in the state where 15,000 students could be accommodated. This is the first time such a large number of students appeared in the examination at a single institution. With LPU being located on the GT Road, we expected traffic snarls, but knowing the infrastructure at the LPU, BFUHS did not even have an iota of doubt that it would be a convenient place for candidates,” said the VC.
He claimed that at 10:49, most students were in their designated classrooms.
“We had information than an army convoy was moving on the GT Road and had obstructed the flow of the traffic. I was at the main gate of the LPU along with my team and senior police officers and security forces. Escorted by a police vehicle, I travelled 5-km on either side of the road to ensure that no student is stuck. I then informed the secretary, medical education and research, that I am going to delay the exam for a few minutes. This action was taken in the larger interest of the student community. We wanted that no candidate should be denied a chance to appear in the examination,” said the VC, adding that LPU was chosen as the management offered the place without charging a penny. LPU denied comment and asked the media to contact only the BFUHS.