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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Capt Amarinder announced, but Punjab govt in no hurry to hold student polls

The state government is “treading cautiously” on the issue keeping in mind the “law and order” factors, said a senior functionary in the government.

punjab Updated: Sep 08, 2018 10:30 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh(HT File )

Despite an announcement by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on holding direct elections for student councils in colleges and varsities, the state government is in no hurry to hold the polls.

The state government is “treading cautiously” on the issue keeping in mind the “law and order” factors, said a senior functionary in the government.

In March this year, the chief minister had announced in the Vidhan Sabha that elections will be conducted across the educational institutes of the state from next academic session.

Session has already started from July and the polls for the Panjab University student council have already been conducted, but the Punjab government is yet to notify a decision to hold the polls.

“No deliberations are being held at present about conducting the student polls. The matter is pending and the government is in no hurry on the issue,” said senior officials from the higher education department.

It was after 34 years that the student bodies across the state started bracing up for the polls in colleges and varsities after Amarinder’s announcement.

The polls were banned in the state in 1984 in the wake of the rise of Khalistani elements in student politics and violence. That time, varsity campuses, particularly Amritsar’s Guru Nanak Dev University; Punjabi University Patiala; Panjab University (PU) Chandigarh and the Ludhiana-based Punjab Agricultural University, had become shelters for extremists with several instances of top terrorists taking refuge in student hostels.

In 1992, Chandigarh allowed “indirect” student elections in colleges and on PU campus. Direct polls were reintroduced on the PU campus in 1996.

Even as student bodies in Punjab too kept on raising the issue of having direct polls and many agitations were also held, but the demand was again put to the backburner in the wake of the assassination of the then chief minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.

A senior Punjab Police functionary also stated that the matter has not come for discussion at their level in the past three months.

“There is still fear of violence in student council polls. There are other law and order challenges prevailing in Punjab at present. Pro-Khalistan forces have also upped their stakes to attract the youth using social media. The clout gangsters enjoy on the campuses by forming their own student bodies is another big concern which needs to be redressed before taking a formal call to hold polls. At this stage, holding polls will be like inviting unwanted troubles,” stated a top cop, having say in the decision-making in the government.

Congress’s Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljeet Nagra, who has remained a prominent student leader and had led a two-month-long strike seeking student polls at PU , feels that the government must go ahead with its decision.

“It’s a democratic right of the students and all notions being projected against holding the polls are not valid as there is complete peace and normalcy in the state now. I will take up the matter at the government level,” said the MLA.