The Punjab government's decision to construct a school on Punjabi University land has been condemned by the varsity's faculty members, who have accused vice chancellor Jaspal Singh of handing over the prime piece of land to the government.
"The vice-chancellor did this only to get a two-year extension. This is a black day for the university," the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) alleged.
At a meeting held on Sunday, DTF members took strong exception to the ceremony held at Punjabi University for laying the foundation stone of a residential model school by Punjab cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.
"The DTF strongly condemns the blatant grabbing of university assets by the state government under the garb of setting up a residential model school for students", read the DTF press note, issued by its convener Jaswinder Singh Brar.
The DTF said its members felt the vice-chancellor had rushed through the proposal to set up the school at a hurriedly convened syndicate meeting on September 24 last year in order to get the extension.
It alleged the university administration had been indulging in double-speak by issuing press statements saying it had signed an agreement with the Punjab government on the varsity retaining ownership of the land.
The DTF said no such pact had been signed and asked, if that was really the case, what prevented the university from making it public. "By transferring university assets the vice-chancellor has lost credibility of being the custodian of public trust," it alleged.
The DTF urged Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to "show magnanimity" and return the land in question to the university for the purpose of setting up a girls' hostel there instead of the school", said the press note.
More than 300 university teachers and 2,200 students affixed their signatures against the land transfer.
The DTF also asked opposition parties in the state - the Congress and AAP - to come forward and protect university interests.