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Ram Rahim case hearing proves dampener for Panjab University polls

With hardly 15 days left for polls, student bodies worry about their campaign as there is panic among the students regarding the dera case verdict.

punjab Updated: Aug 24, 2017 20:10 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Panjab University,PU polls,Dera sacha sauda
Student parties are finding it difficult to campaign as classes have been declared off and a majority of students have left for their homes. (Ravi Kumar/HT File)

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim rape case verdict is proving dampener even for the coming Panjab University student council elections that is to be held tentatively on September 8.

Student parties are finding it difficult to campaign as classes have been declared off and a majority of students have left for their homes.

With hardly 15 days left for polls, student bodies worry about their campaign as there is panic among the students regarding the dera case verdict.

Classes off

UT administration has announced on Wednesday that all the educational institutions in Chandigarh will remain closed on August 24 and 25. No classes will be held on August 26 and 27 as being Saturday and Sunday.

No class campaign can be done in these four days. “Class campaigning is an important part in preparing for the elections and that is on a halt for now. Rest will depend on the verdict on Friday. I hope the situation remains peaceful,” said Harmanjot Gill, state president of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

Library, Student Centre closed

AC Joshi library in PU remained closed on Thursday. Only the outside reading hall was available to the students. Most of the shops in Student Centre were also closed.

“Only a few students are available to talk. Many of them are leaving. They are having problems as the bus service has been shut down but they are finding ways to go home as the university is closed for four days,” said a student at the library.

Dera case verdict is talk of the day

Talk of the day has been shifted from PU polls to Gurmeet Ram Rahim rape case verdict. No student is interested in hearing about the election.

“Every one is talking about the case verdict, what will happen after the verdict, and how it will impact those living in Chandigarh and even the students in PU,” said president of Students for Society (SFS), Damanpreet.

He added, “ Those who have left don’t know how they will return to campus. In case the situation becomes tense, there might be a possibility that the election is postponed.”

Hostels empty

Sources told HT that many students residing in hostels have either left or are leaving. Many had to come back as the bus service has been suspended and they feel stranded.

“No student is to be seen at Student Centre or on the campus. All our plans about campaign have been wasted. Now the campaign is on a halt for now. Nobody is ready to talk about election,” said Chandan Rana of National Students Union of India (NSUI).

Internet shut down comes as blow

As the student organisations had planned to campaign on social media, a blow has shattered their hopes. Mobile internet services will also be shut down for the next 72 hours in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh. No bulk messages, no Facebook, no WhatsApp.

“It’s too bad a situation. As colleges are closed, we had planned to campaign on social media. However, that too is not an option now,” said Prabh Grewal of ABVP unit in DAV College, Sector 10.

Harpreet Kaur of Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) at Post Graduate Government College, Sector 11, said, “We are campaigning in the hostel. However, if the situation becomes tense, students will want to go home. Though we really hope that the situation remains peaceful.” Vijay Kumar of All India Student Association unit of the same college said, “Many of the students have started suspecting each other to be a dera follower. We are asking students not to panic.”

The general body meeting of SFS that was scheduled to be held on Thursday has also been postponed.

First Published: Aug 24, 2017 20:10 IST