Punjab University has decided to withdraw a complaint against some of its students on the basis of which they were booked for violence on the campus during a protest over fee hike on April 11. After a meeting of the senate today, PU Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover announced this decision to students who were demanding withdrawal of the case and a rollback of the fee hike. Grover told the students that he would write to Governor and UT Chandigarh Administrator V P Singh Badnore for the withdrawal of the complaint.
The decision was taken during an emergency meeting of the PU senate (decision making body of the varsity) held at the administration block of the University here.
On April 11, a protest against fee hike had turned violent after protesting students clashed with police, leading to injuries on both sides.
Acting on the complaint by PU authorities, the Chandigarh police had then booked more than 60 students on various charges including rioting and causing damage to public property.
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As the senate meeting started, students assembled outside the administration block protesting against the fee hike and the case registered against them. Slogans were also raised against the PU authorities.
Entry to the administration block was barricaded while a water canon truck was also deployed by the Chandigarh police.
During the senate meeting, former union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal proposed that the cases against students should be withdrawn keeping in mind their future and peaceful atmosphere on the campus.
The proposal was supported by many senators including former PU VC R P Bambha.
Grover assured the senate that no student who has been booked will be disallowed from taking exams.
During the meeting, several senators also took up the issue of fee hike and demanded its review.
Bansal suggested that fee hike should be 10 per cent over the previous year’s fee. He pointed out that consumer price index increased by three times from 2000-01 till 2016-17 while fee hike in some courses was far too steep and “unjustified”.
“PU is not a private university. It is a state university. It is the government’s responsibility to provide for education. There is no gainsay in saying that majority of students here come from poor background for education,” said the former railway minister.
He sought formation of a committee comprising senators and students to take a call on fee hike.
Bansal also said that he would provide financial assistance of the University where he too studied.
“I will give Rs 2 lakh every year till amount reaches Rs 20 lakh,” he said.
Senator Naresh Gaur demanded that there should be rational hike in tuition fee of PU as against 1,100 per cent hike proposed in some courses.
Some of the senators including Rajesh Gill, DPS Randhawa condemned the action of the Chandigarh police against students on April 11 and demanded cross FIR against them.
A few members of the senate also raised the issue of giving central university status to PU to tide over the financial crisis situation. At present, PU is an inter-state body corporate.
Students have been protesting against the hike in tuition fee announced by PU senate last month for the academic year 2017-18.
In some courses, the fee hike is steep. In case of B. Pharma course, the fee was raised from Rs 5,080 to Rs 50,000 while for the Masters in journalism course, the fee was hiked from Rs 5,290 to Rs 30,000.
The University authorities had justified the average 12.5 per cent hike pointing to the varsity’s financial condition with an anticipated deficit of Rs 244 crore for the financial year 2017-18.
They had also claimed that the hike had rationalised the fee structure.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released Rs 20-crore as ad hoc grant to PU for the academic session 2017-18. Similarly, Punjab government has also released Rs 2.16 crore to it.