Lahore, Wednesday, December 3, 1919

Students and Political Meetings

LALA Durga Das’s last letter, published in our Sunday’s issue, raises no fresh question. After referring to what has been done in some of the Lahore Colleges by way of preventing students from attending political meetings, Lala Durga Das asks if a case has not been made out for the University to intervene and put an end to this extremism. We humbly submit that there is no special merit in putting an end to extremism by extremism, and for our part we find no difference in substance and in essence between what Lala Durga Das asks the University to put an end to and what in his famous letter to the Registrar he asked it to do itself. Of the four Colleges referred to by him, three have made their students sign a pledge that they would not attend political meetings of any kind, while in another the Principal, if Lala Durga Das’s information is correct, enjoys the power to prohibit students from attending any public meeting or taking part in any movement which he considers objectionable and to punish the defaulters by temporary or permanent expulsion, detention or fine. Lala Durga Das is right when he says that the several declarations remind one of the bonds taken from bad characters under the Code of the Criminal Procedure. But the declarations are only a matter of form. In substance his own proposal was the same as that which the several Colleges have, each in its own way, sought to carry out. That this is so only a cursory reference to his letter will show. The third of the rules, suggested by him for the consideration of the Syndicate, was that “no College student shall be permitted to attend any public meeting held to discuss any political question, except with the permission of his Principal”. The fourth laid down that the punishment for disregard of this rule “might extend to expulsion”.

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