The "objectionable" issue of rustication of a student and suspension of two others by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) a few days back got murkier on Tuesday with students of the Agricultural Engineering College coming out in support of the suspended students and boycotting classes.
Raising the banner of revolt under the PAU Student Association (PAUSA), the student leaders alleged that students suspended from the campus are being made a scapegoat, as by taking such a decision the vice-chancellor wants to convey to student and teaching fraternity the impression of his "strictness".
On July 23, three students of engineering college of the university - Dilpreet Singh Chahal from BTech and Jashandeep Singh and Harpreet Singh from MTech - were shunted out of the campus, as a day before they were spotted sleeping on the lawns situated between PAU and adjoining Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU). Dilpreet was rusticated while Jashandeep and Harpreet were suspended from their present admissions.
Somebody had clicked the photographs of these students and emailed these to the vice-chancellor.
The university had claimed that these students were "drunk", but the charge was not established in the "hasty" inquiry conducted by the varsity. Without conducting their medical examination and giving a chance to appear in inquiry, the students were rusticated.
"First of all, the three were not drunk. Even the inquiry report has failed to establish it. They were also not found involved in harming any student or the varsity property that night. Their only fault is that they slept on the lawn because on that day, we are witness, that there was no room available because of heavy rush of students, who had come for registration on July 23," PAUSA president Sharanveer Singh said.
The students of the engineering college have announced that they will not attend classes till the suspension and rustication orders are not revoked.
In the pictures sent to the select media houses by V-C Baldev Singh Dhillon, the students have been found sleeping in an "abnormal" position with turbans of two of them lying on the road.
"The reprimand given to the students is very strict as compared to the mistake committed by them.
The way, the V-C took the decision without a proper inquiry does not befit a person who is heading an educational institution," stated a senior faculty member of the university.
Sources added that even as in the inquiry conducted by the disciplinary committee headed by a senior faculty member from the engineering college, Jarnail Singh, it was recommended to keep three students on "conduct probation", but orders from the V-C office proved supreme and recommendation of the disciplinary committee were overruled.
The issue has set the tone for a confrontation between the V-C and students, as the PAUSA has announced that if the administration does not revoke the suspension, they will not hesitate in opening a front against the V-C as well. A large number of faculty members have been seen criticising the V-C for being adamant on the issue.