Violent spats on the rise in Panjab University

November 11th, 2008 - 10:31 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Nov 11 (IANS) Panjab University (PU) seems to have become a battleground for settling scores of various political groups.Loopholes in the security arrangements at PU can be gauged from the fact there was a bloody brawl last Thursday right in front of the PU vice chancellor’s house, supposed to be a high security zone.

Around a dozen youths armed with batons and iron rods attacked Barinder Dhillon, PU campus president, and fled after leaving him bleeding profusely from head wounds.

All this happened right in front of the PU’s vice chancellor R.C. Sobti, four security guards and various other residents of the locality, but nobody dared to interfere.

“The attackers had come in two cars and the security guards had noted their registration number; yet the attackers managed to flee from the university. Heavy security is deployed at all the gates of the university and all of them have been provided with wireless phones but their coordination is very poor,” one of the eyewitnesses, Harmanjit Singh Deol, a research scholar and former student leader of PU, told IANS.

“Dhillon had gone to the vice chancellor’s house to invite him for a function but fell in the trap of members of a rival political group who had been following him for a long time. If the residence of the vice-chancellor is not safe then how can one expect safety at other places in the campus?”

A few weeks back there was another brawl between the same two groups in which the police booked Barinder Dhillon, who was at the receiving end this time.

In April 2007, six miscreants had entered the examination hall at the Department of Law and stabbed a first year student repeatedly with a sharp edged weapon. In March 2007, five students of the law department attacked a student leader of the same department with swords and injured the security guard who tried to stop them.

On Nov 5, 2007, some students of a political party which had lost in the union polls pelted the vice chancellor’s residence with stones but no concrete action was taken against the accused students.

“Chandigarh Police and the private security agency here has been an utter failure to check the rising violent incidents in the campus. After every incident the police booked a case and the culprit went scot-free after a few days,” said a faculty member of the chemistry department on condition of anonymity.

The PU campus that is spread over 550 acres in Sectors 14 and 25 here has earlier experienced very little need of police and private security personnel. However, now over 150 private security personnel, various Chandigarh Police officials and two police vans are stationed inside the campus round the clock.

Every year student leaders, with countless criminal cases pending against them, contest in the elections. Despite the fact that around 70 percent of the students are women, there are rampant fights among various groups of boys.

“If we look at the history of PU, the common student is never involved in such violent incidents and most of the time outsiders are involved who easily flee after committing a crime. I have been associated with PU since early 1980s and have observed that these outbursts are generally the outcome of rivalry between students groups,” Ronki Ram, president of the Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) and chairperson of the Department of Political Science, told IANS.

“Deployment of heavy security is never a solution to this problem as culprits are not studying here and we should revere this place as a temple of learning. We need to sensitise our students by inculcating the values of humanity and unity in them,” said Ronki Ram.

PU, one of the oldest universities of the country, was established in 1882 at Lahore and was shifted to Chandigarh in 1956.

There are over 60 teaching and research departments at the Chandigarh campus and over 150 colleges in Punjab are affiliated to PU.

“We are following stringent rules and regulations to maintain harmony at the PU campus. Every four-wheeler is thoroughly checked before entering the campus and we also conduct surprise raids at the hostel rooms at regular intervals,” Vijay Pal, security in-charge of PU and a retired deputy superintendent of police, told IANS.

“Now we are trying to find out the areas where there is a security lapse and more officials will be stationed in civil clothes at all the sensitive points in the campus,” said Pal.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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