Sandeep Singh: Students Protest Against The Centralization Of Panjab University
"[A] Save Panjab University Struggle Support Committee was formed to fight against the centralization of Panjab University."
July 5, 2022 | 2.5 min. read | Original Reporting
On July 2, 2022, a meeting was held at Kendri Singh Sabha, Chandigarh, and a Save Panjab University Struggle Support Committee was formed to fight against the centralization of Panjab University (PU).
Left-leaning and Sikh student unions have to come together, in addition to farm organizations, Sikh bodies, social activists, and journalists. With over 30 groups, it is one of the largest committees formed to protest centralizations, according to Sandeep Singh, president of SFS, a student organization at Panjab University.
“We had called a meeting to form a wider front and to provide representation to Paunjabis irrespective of their ideology, which led to the formation of the committee. Before the formation of the new committee, another front was formed by nine left and left-leaning student bodies that protested in Chandigarh and Sangrur. At least four organizations, SFS, PRSU, DSO, and PSU, have now become part of the new front.”
In 1882, Panjab University was set up in Lahore. After partition, East Panjab University was founded on October 1, 1947, and its headquarters were based in Solan (Shimla).
In 1950, East Panjab University’s name was changed to Panjab University (PU). Later in 1956, PU’s headquarter was shifted from Solan to Chandigarh and it had affiliated colleges in Punjab, Chandigarh, and present-day Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
After Punjab was reorganized as per the Reorganisation Act, 1966, PU was made an “inter-state corporate body” with affiliated colleges in both Punjab and Chandigarh. In the mid-1970s, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh stopped contributing to PU. Eventually, the central government and Punjab agreed to contribute to PU in a 60:40 percent ratio.
In May 2022, Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the central government to consider converting the university into a central university and to file its reply by August 30, 2022.
Student bodies of Punjab have spoken against the High Court recommendation and have threatened to continue protesting. Last month, two major protests were held, with one in Sangrur outside the BJP candidate for Lok Sabha By-Poll Kewal Dhillon's office and another one on the Punjab-Chandigarh border.
Student organization Sath had approached Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Kultar Sandhwan against the centralization of Panjab University.
“We are protesting against centralization and want the university to be handed over to Punjab. Many are saying that if PU becomes a central university, it will get funding from the centre and become better. But according to data, central universities are facing staff shortages and the government wants to provide them loans, not funds. A state university is for students of the state. If PU becomes a state university, it should provide reservation to Punjab,” Singh shared.
The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution against the university’s centralization plans on June 30, 2022. Punjab’s education minister Meet Hayer, alumni of PU, said that the Punjab government will raise the issue with the central government.
Prominent Punjabis have already taken to social media against the centralization with tweets and Facebook posts. Punjabi Singer Shree Brar will soon release a song against the centralization of the university as well.
Back in 2018, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had demanded a share in PU and faced protest from then Punjab CM Amarinder Singh.
Sandeep Singh hails from Machhiwara, Punjab. As an independent journalist, he has worked with many prominent Indian news organizations. Sandeep has been following the farmer’s protest in Punjab since its onset and traveled with them to Delhi. You can follow Sandeep on Twitter @Punyaab
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