Chandigarh,13,Apr:Today the chain fast by the students and teachers on the campus entered the seventh day. They are demanding central university status for Panjab University but Punjab Government is not ready to listen to the peaceful protest. Among the teachers who sat on the fast were Dr Jayant Pedkar, Department of Mass Communication, Dr. Amrinderpal Singh from UIET, Dr Gaurav, Department of Geography, and Dr V.K. Singh, Chairman Chinese and Tibetan Language along with Sh Shiv Kumar from the Library Science. Despite being holiday today a large number of students and teachers spared time out of their busy time of examination and visited the site of the Chain Fast in order to give a moral support to the teachers and students sitting on the protest.
Later in the evening a Candle Light Procession was taken out jointly by the students and teachers on the campus to publicly highlight the demand for central status for P.U. Addressing the gathering Prof. A.S Ahluwalia said that in case the Punjab Government refuses to relent we are ready to march towards Delhi to knock at the doors of Union Government. He criticized the double standards of Punjab Government, as it is happy with the offer of central universities in Punjab but irks at when Panjab University asks for similar status of a central University simply for the reason that P.U. is located in the politically disputed territory of U.T. Chandigarh. It shows an utter lack of statesmanship and proves to be a case of bad politics, said Prof. Ahluwalia. If the Punjab University is allowed to starve of funds very soon it will be left with buildings sans academics.
Prof Manjit Singh, Secretary PUTA said that the tuition fee for the new professional /job oriented courses opened up recently on the campus is in the range of 10-20 times of the fee for the regular courses. If this trend continues soon the doors of the University will be shut on the eligible poor students. He also regretted the type of political stalemate between the Centre and the State of Punjab and said that neither of them is ready to prioritise the need to save P.U. from financial crunch over the narrow political ends. He also made a public appeal to all the alumni of P.U., whose number run into lakhs, to write directly to the Prime Minister and MHRD requesting them to save P.U. from the ongoing financial crisis by declaring it a central university.
In the meanwhile a delegation of teachers under the leadership of President and Secretary, PUTA called on Sh Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister of State for Finance and appealed him to convince the leadership at the Centre to find out the way to come out of the current political stalemate. In response Sh Bansal suggested that PUTA might represent to the Union government to give the status of ‘institute of national importance’ to P.U. under the seventh schedule of the Constitution like BHU, AMU or Delhi University. He rubbished the claims of all those who are saying that Centre is free to take unilateral decision without the concurrence of the Punjab Government and instead suggested them to call an all party meeting immediately in order to know the true friends or foes of P.U.
At the same time Prof Anil Sarwal, Vice President PCCTU, while supporting the demand for the central university status to P.U. has given a call to all the college teachers to reach in large number at the Dharna site on the campus on 16 April, 2008 by noon so that wider public protest could be registered.