As the video of the Sector-11 station house officer (SHO) abusing and manhandling students at Panjab University (PU) has gone viral, students have been protesting against the entry of cops on the campus.
Although students claim the university has around 400 security guards and there is no need for the police to “interfere”, PU authorities claim that police action becomes necessary keeping in view the “attitude” of students, who misbehave with the security guards. However, in view of protests, the vice-chancellor has asked the officials concerned to formulate a policy on police interference on the campus.
Recently during a protest by non-teaching employees on the campus, police had to be called in. Later, when a group of students was protesting against fee hike, cops were again rushed to the spot.
Vicky Middukhera, state president of the Students Organisation of India (SOI), who claims to have been protesting against police entry on the campus for long, calls for constitution of a committee. “The committee should be made responsible for deciding if cops need to intervene or not?” he says.
National Students Union of India (NSUI) leader Brinder Dhillon says police interference on the campus points towards the lack of communication between the authorities and students.
“Such incidents will only increase bitterness between PU authorities and students. Police should be allowed on the campus only if the dean, students’ welfare (DSW), gives permission. To some extent, lack of leadership among students is also to be blamed for the sad state of affairs,” he says.
The NSUI besides the Society for Students (SFS) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) have, in fact, written to the DSW, demanding a ban on police entering the campus and an apology from the SHO concerned.
Commenting on it, DSW Navdeep Goyal says police intervention became necessary as students manhandled the security guards. He says when students threaten to block university gates, which will harass the residents and other students, it becomes important to seek help from police.
“It is surprising that students themselves call cops. Recently, during pruning of trees on the campus, students informed the police instead of raising the issue with us. They should be consistent on the issue of police entry,” he says.
Pointing towards partial “reporting” on social media, Goyal says if there was a video showing the SHO abusing students, there should have been one showing other side of the story as well. “In any case, we cannot ask cops to apologise to students,” he says.
‘I only dispersed those creating nuisance’
Narinder Patial, the SHO in question, denies that he “manhandled” or “abused” students. “In my language, I call it dispersing those trying to create nuisance on the campus. I was called there because the students’ protest was getting violent. The syndicate meeting was going on and they could have broken windows. I did not manhandle the students. Whatever I did was under the powers I have under the Criminal Procedure Code,” says the SHO.
On not allowing cops on the university campus, Patial says: “If they want, they can close all three gates for the police, but without cops, there will be violence there.”