A massive row has erupted over the University Grant Commission’s (UGC) circular to Vice Chancellors of all the universities across the country directing them to observe September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’. While the Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal was the first to respond to the UGC directive giving it a thumbs down, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) has joined the league to oppose the move.
This, after JNU vice chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said that the university will abide by the UGC order. “We will be celebrating in JNU. JNU is very closely related to the defence forces. When our alumni go and fight for us at the borders, as a University, we must recognise their contribution,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, the UGC in a communication to all the universities asked them to observe September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’. Besides, it asked the universities to encourage the students and faculty to take part in different events on the day. It also directed NCC units of all varsities to hold a special parade to mark the day.
“The NCC units of all universities should organise a special parade on September 29 after which the NCC commander shall address them on the modalities of protection of the borders. The varsities may organise a talk-session calling ex-serviceman to sensitise students about sacrifices made by the armed forces,” the UGC said in a communication to all VCs.
According to the UGC communication, a multimedia exhibition will be organised on September 29 near India Gate on Rajpath. It said that similar exhibitions may be organised in states, UTs and cantonments.
Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Education minister Partha Chatterjee said that the UGC directive to universities is a part of the BJP government’s agenda to ‘malign and politicise’ the Army. “It is a matter of shame that they are using the UGC to achieve their political agenda. We won’t abide by the directions of UGC.” he said.
The Congress party also criticised the government over UGC’s directive. Former HRD Minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal accused the government of trying to destroy the freedom of the university.
“It is absolutely shocking. In fact, I don’t think since independence, we have seen UGC giving any kind of directive of this nature to universities. For UGC, to give a directive is destroying the very independence of the university system.” he said.
Meanwhile, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that the UGC circular was issued only after receiving many suggestions from the students and teachers that events be organised to commemorate the day.
“On September 20, we have asked colleges, those who want to, can arrange a lecture by ex-army officers who can tell the students how defence forces defend the country and how the surgical strike was conducted. We never mandate anything, we suggest and issue advisory. There is no politics, it is only patriotism,” he said.
Two years ago, on September 29 night, Indian Army jawans had crossed over the LoC and successfully conducted surgical strikes targeting the terror launchpads of the terrorists. The operation by Army had cause heavy damages to the terror groups that enjoy logistical support from Pakistan Army.