Known otherwise for swanky cars and open jeeps, the Panjab University campus is in the news for a different reason this time. The week-long protests over the hike in tuition fee for the 2017-18 session by the varsity has turned PU into what is now being called the new student protest site. The situation on the campus turned ugly on Tuesday with students clashing with police and also damaging public property after cops used tear gas and water cannon against them.
At a time when Delhi University (DU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital are known to be hubs of protest marches, many have raised their eyebrows over the emergence of Chandigarh’s public collegiate university as a protest site. Earlier, some stray incidents of violence were limited to annual campus elections but the menace has spread its tentacles, it seems.
Some prominent alumni of the university expressed dismay over the development.
As someone who has been associated with PU since 1956, the journey has been meaningful. Whatever happened yesterday (Tuesday) on the campus was disturbing. Let us join together, do our best. Its (PU’s) glorious journey must continue.
--Balram Gupta, director (academics), Chandigarh Judicial Academy, in his Facebook post
It (violence on the Panjab University campus on Tuesday) was unfortunate. Since I was in Delhi, I need to check the details about the incident before I can make a comment on the issue.
--Kirron Kher, Chandigarh MP and BJP leader
- Some students of the university on Wednesday started a campaign on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #SavePU. Students, especially girls, actively tagged the Twitter handles of the Prime Minister, Union minister of human resources development and journalists seeking help and urging the authorities to “save the future of PU students”. They questioned as why their protest was being considered “anti-national”.
The financial crisis issue PU faces has reached the high court and the apex court. If all goes well, it will be resolved by month-end. Some forces from JNU are responsible for spreading violence in other campuses also. We too sat on strikes during our student days but we never got this violent.
--Satya Pal Jain, additional solicitor general of India
It is an unprecedented situation. We held strikes in 1971 but the issue was amicably resolved after the then V-C immediately addressed the problem. There is a decline in government expenditure on education and it reflects our priorities.
-- Pawan Kumar Bansal, former Union minister