Acting after a huge public uproar, the state government has directed Thapar University (TU) to roll back its decision to abolish the 50% quota for students from Punjab in undergraduate engineering courses.
Terming the abolition "anti-Punjab", state technical education minister Anil Joshi told HT on Saturday, "The government has taken strong notice of the abolition of quota by the institute without any prior information or discussion with the government. We have sent a letter to the institute, asking for withdrawal of the decision."
HT had exclusively reported how TU, which is privately managed, had scrapped the quota citing guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The university changed its stance later, and cited "dearth of quality students from Punjab" as the reason.
Joshi said that after taking note of the HT reports, he took up the matter with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, following which the decision to write to the university was taken.
"The TU management has told the technical education department that UGC norms were the reason for scrapping the quota. Whatever may be the reason, we want the university to withdraw its decision and restore the 50% quota," said Joshi.
Asked what the government would do if the university were to not comply with the directions, Joshi said it was too early to comment on that.
He reminded, however, that the state government had played a crucial role in building the institute.
"The government gave land to the institute, among other benefits. Hence, the quota for Punjab students is a matter of right. We will guard the interests of Punjab's aspiring engineers at any cost," he said further.
Students' body on dharna today
Resentment against TU's move reached another high on Saturday, as the Punjab Student Union announced to hold a dharna at the university gates on Monday.
Union president Gurmukh Singh Mann issued a statement: "The abolition of quota by TU will hurt chances of Punjab students. Moreover, by saying that there is dearth of quality students from Punjab, TU has insulted the pride of Punjab."