Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal president Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal today issued a “stern warning” against the proposed move “to tinker with the cultural and regional character and curtail the territorial jurisdiction of the Punjab University.”
“This move”, he said, “would be fraught with serious emotional, religious and political consequences.” He strongly cautioned the Vice Chancellor Dr Raj Kumar not to rush headlong into this” rash and ill-advised venture which concerned the sentiments of the people of Punjab who were already reeling under prolonged injustice and discrimination in various political, religious, economic and territorial spheres.”
“It seems that the varsity authorities are insensitive to the emotional fall out of their actions. Their motives strike at the very roots of the ideals which inspire SAD and which form the cornerstone of the Constitution of India.”
“At stake here are the country’s federal character and the ideal of unity and diversity. This move has already given rise to fears of an assault on minority interests,” said Mr Badal in a statement here.
Badal said that that this move would virtually deprive this great institution of its very character as an “institution of global repute symbolising Punjab and its rich and variegated culture.” He said that efforts seemed afoot to deprive this great institution of its character as essentially the heart and mind of Punjabis.”
“There are credible and disturbing reports of a move to reduce and limit the jurisdiction of this world famous and historic edifice of academic excellence to just the periphery of the Union Territory of Chandigarh. For this, they are reportedly going through the formality of having a High Level Committee recommending disaffiliation of more than 200 colleges at present with the Varsity spreading over seven districts in the State in the Malwa belt. This won’t be allowed”.
The Akali leader also came down heavily against the reported move to change the character and composition of both the Senate and the Syndicate of the university in order to destroy their democratic academic character as well as turn these into a centrally controlled wings of the varsity.
Describing the recommendations and proposals of the so called High Level Committee as “ pre-scripted and made to order”, Mr Badal said, “Under the new proposal the size of the Senate would be reduced from 15 members to just four. It would become a hand maid of the government as all the four members would be nominated by the Vice Chancellor and not elected.This would make the senate a laughing stock of central bureaucrats who themselves would obey their masters in the Union government. .The same path is being adopted for the highest decision making body of the university, the 18 member Syndicate. Its strength is being reduced from 18 to 13, and 10 of these 13 members would be nominated while three others would be ex officio members. What a tragic irony that the highest centres of learning in the word’s largest democracy would be denied the democratic path of functioning and replaced with hand-picked nominees?.
Badal said. “How ironical that we have to fight to save the Punjab University for Punjab. But the SAD won’t flinch and won’t let Punjab’s educationists and students fraternity down. “We will fight in the front ranks.There is a widespread resentment against this move among the teachers and students of the university and among other lovers of Punjab’s rich culture and language.
Badal regretted that the Vice Chancellor flew even in the face of the directions of the Honourable Punjab and Haryana High Court which has directed the varsity authorities to conduct elections for the governing bodies. The authorities keep making alibis like Covid , and consulting the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal for their consent. They are using Covid as an excuse against holding these elections forgetting that the the pandemic was seen as no obstruction to major elections like those in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. So how would it come in the way of a mere university poll?”
Badal said that the Youth Akali Dal and SOI are already protesting against these anti Punjab and anti Punjabi moves.” If the authorities don’t listen to the voice of reason, then the SAD would have to think of the next course of action. But one hopes that sanity would prevail and they won’t force us to take to the democratic agitational route.”