The meeting between officials of the Punjab government and Thapar University (TU) over abolition of 50% quota for Punjab students did not produce any outcome on Friday, with TU officials not giving any 'positive commitment' to the government on restoring the quota.
Officials of the TU, led by vice-chairman of the board of governors (BoG) JS Neerav and director Abhijit Mukherjee, who had been summoned by the state government to explain the reasons behind abolishing the quota, cited University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines for the step. The meeting, held in Chandigarh, lasted about 45 minutes.
"The TU officials informed us that the decision had been taken by the BoG, the apex administrative decision-making body of the university, and could be rolled back only after the BoG withdrew it. They promised to take up the matter with the chairman of the TU trust and other high-ups of the institution, but gave no assurance about restoring the quota," principal secretary, technical education, Punjab, SS Channi told HT.
The TU officials also did not give any time frame to the state government for bringing up the matter before the BoG.
"We had specifically asked TU officials to give a time frame in this regard or promise a rollback of the quota abolition. But they did not do so and just said that they would inform us after taking up the matter with the BoG and the trustees," said Channi.
Government officials led by Channi also handed over a copy of the letter written by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal.
Sources said the TU officials also failed to produce any document in support of their argument to abolish the quota as per UGC guidelines.
"They cited UGC compulsions, but only verbally," said another government official who was present at the meeting.
Despite repeated attempts, TU director Abhijit Mukherjee and other university officials could not be contacted for comments.
The Sikh Youth of Punjab (SYP), in a press note released from Jalandhar on Friday, said TU's decision to abolish the state quota was biased.
In a statement, SYP chief Ranbir Singh and spokesperson Prabhjot Singh said, "The university is located on land belonging to Punjab. The management can under no pretext refuse to give quota to sons of the soil."
Acknowledging the chief minister's efforts in taking up the matter with union minister Kapil Sibal, the SYP said the government should exert full pressure on the TU management to ensure restoration of the quota.
Meanwhile, activists of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, held a press conference over the issue and threatened to launch a state-wide agitation.
"It's a university developed by the state. Thapar's contribution is only to provide an idea to the state and donate Rs 30 lakh, as per the trust deed signed at the inception of the institute. Punjab students have the first right over this institute," said ABVP state secretary Gurwinder Singh.
He also questioned Capt Amarinder Singh's silence over the issue in the context of the latter being a trustee of the education trust running the institute.