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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

HPU violence raises question mark on student politics

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, May 14, 2013
First Published: 19:16 IST(14/5/2013) | Last Updated: 19:44 IST(14/5/2013)

Violence in Himachal Pradesh University that erupted following a clash between right-oriented - Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and left-student wing Students Federation of India (SFI) has once again raised questions on politics on the campus.

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Clash between rival student organisations has made it imperative for the university authorities to de-politicise students' union elections or better still - ban student unions.

History of state government-run university is replete with murders. Since the late 70s, four students have fell victim to violence. It was in 1979 for the first time when growing rivalry between the students' outfits led to murder of Suresh Sood.

In mid-80s, two students - Nasir Khan and Bharat Bushan - were murdered in their rooms. Kuldeep Datwalaia lost his life in 1994, following a clash between SFI and ABVP.

The Monday violence was nothing but a fight between student groups to increase their vote bank. The three student outfits ABVP, SFI and NSUI are nurtured by major national parties - which often result in blatant show of money and muscle power during the elections.

Every year, just before the elections to prove their dominance the student groups indulge in violent clashes. Even people who are not the students of college or a university get involved in the elections.

History has it that HPU has been a breeding ground for many state leaders. There is a long list of political leaders, who have studied from HPU, which include BJP's national general secretary JP Nadda, state Congress chief Sukvinder Singh Sukhu, state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti, CPM state secretary Rakesh Singha, Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj and many more.

The latest violent clashes have sparked anger among common students.

“While a majority of students are averse to politics, the students' unions are not in favour of de-politicisation. This is because student leaders have aspirations to make a career in politics,” said a university student.

“Student politics and violence has become synonyms. This is unfortunate. We only suggest that strict action should be taken. The administration should not keep on passing the buck. Instead it should think about a concrete solution,” Kiran Gautam, a student who is pursuing her Masters in tourism administration   at HPU.

Common students call for stringent measures to curb violence on the campus. “It's a shameful incident. Such kind of activity happens almost every year. The administration says strict action will be taken against it and the story ends there. So who are we to say anything if the administration itself has kept their mouth shut,” says Dolly Singh, a student of history.

The university authorities to feel the need to de-politicise the campus. Vice-chancellor ADN Bajpai took a landmark decision to dissolve the elected Student Central Association for its indulgence in violent clash. “Violence in the university is just result of students' elections,” he said, adding, “To gain votes, student organisations indulge in violence.”

After a bloody clash last year in which over 30 students were injured, Bajpai initiated the driver to check the “unscrupulous” elements residing in hostels. The hostels were completely shut for one month and rooms were only allotted to the students studying in the university. “If need be, we can even ban the student elections,” he added.


Leaders' take
Banning elections is the only solution to end violence. Elections should be banned at least for two years in colleges and universities where student organisations indulge in violence. I am also making suggestions to the government on the growing clashes among student groups. Even teachers should be banned from indulging in politics - state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Actually what happened on Monday cannot be tolerated by any civil society. One has to go in logics as to why violence erupts.  The Monday violence was a result of long-drawn provocation from the other side. I am not in favour of banning elections because it is the democratic right of the students. The university administration has its own role and they should check it. - CPM state secretary Rakesh Singha.

Unfortunately, violence has become common in Himachal Pradesh University. So far, four students had to lose their life due to violence. Leaders related to left-oriented organisation were even jailed for a student's murder. Elections should be banned in educational institutions. Satpal Satti, state BJP president and former ABVP leader in HPU

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