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Posted at: Sep 2, 2018, 1:57 AM; last updated: Sep 2, 2018, 5:00 PM (IST)

Rendezvous with presidential candidates at PU

Hostel allotment emerges to be a big issue, but their opinions vary on the 2017 stone-pelting incident

Bhartesh Singh Thakur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1

Presidential candidates Ravinder Bir Singh Randhawa of Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU), Ashish Rana of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Iqbal Preet Singh of the Students Organisation of India (SOI), Kanupriya of the Students for Society (SFS) and Amandeep of the Punjab Students Union (PSU) (Lalkaar) gathered at PU Student Centre to debate on a slew of issues. 

They reached a consensus that hostel allotments have not been fair, analysis of teachers’ feedback forms should be conducted and ban on four-wheelers should be implemented. However, the opinions of leftists and others varied on the stone-pelting incident of 2017. 

Q A number of parties have been talking about unfair allotment of hostels. Though the allotment is online, several doubts are being raised.

Ravinder Bir Randhawa (PUSU): Hostel allotments should be conducted in a way that students can monitor it. Parties close to the authorities get the rooms allotted. 

Ashish Rana (ABVP): Transparency is the need of the hour. The process of allotment is online, but it is not being properly implemented. 

Iqbal Preet Singh (SOI): Transparency in the hostel allotment is one of the biggest issues which has came to the fore this year. 

Kanupriya (SFS): Parties, movie tickets and hostel allotments are means to lure students. Fair allotment is the right of the PU students. 

Amandeep (PSU): Hostel allotments shouldn’t take place through mediators. Applications are being processed under the table and genuine cases are ignored.

Q A consensus is emerging that girls’ hostels should remain 24-hour open. If it is implemented, who will take responsibility for their safety?

Ravinder Bir Randhawa (PUSU): We are in favour of keeping girls’ hostels open for 24 hours. However, the PU should get its security in order. We need to ban outsiders on the campus.

Ashish Rana (ABVP): The relaxation in timings needs to be implemented with a procedure. The PU has to strengthen its security. More CCTV cameras need to be installed. 

Iqbal Preet Singh (SOI): I once sat on hunger strike for 5 days for the relaxation in PU hostels’ timings. We are of the view that hostels should be open for 24 hours.

Kanupriya (SFS): Parents will not be even ready to allow the girls’ hostels to remain open till 11:30 pm. The PU authorities have to take the responsibility for their safety. 

Amandeep (PSU): I support keeping girls’ hostel open for 24 hours — on a par with the boys’ hostels. My party will always vouch for such genuine demands of the students. 

QShall we allow Himachal Pradesh and Haryana to contribute funds? What is your call on the centralised status for the PU? 

Ravinder Bir Randhawa (PUSU): Students’ welfare is paramount, so regional parties shouldn’t start talking about their contribution to the PU, whenever the issue of central university status is raised. 

Ashish Rana (ABVP): Panjab University is not the property of any particular state. The central university or status of institute of national importance is a good solution.

Iqbal Preet Singh (SOI): In our opinion, whatever method may be used to overcome the financial crisis. For us, the welfare of students is of utmost imporatnce. 

Kanupriya (SFS): Becoming a central university is not a solution. Central universities are also facing fund crisis. Funding from Haryana to the PU should be welcomed. 

Amandeep (PSU): The Central Government should take the responsibility to deal with the problems of the university. We are open to funds from other states. 

QWhat are your views on the reservation on vertical-basis and its implementation in the Senate and Syndicate? 

Ravinder Bir Randhawa (PUSU): Reservation is a part of the Constitution. It is not possible to abolish it. We can bring amendments by giving reservation to the economically weaker sections.

Ashish Rana (ABVP): The Constitution calls for bringing equality for all sections of society. A few sections of the society need to be upgraded through reservation. 

Iqbal Preet Singh (SOI): We have to rise above the reservation system. The economic criteria may be considered as a basis for providing students with reservations. 

Kanupriya (SFS): Reservation is needed for the marginalised sections of society. We need to upgrade their status —economically and socially — so we need reservation.

Amandeep (PSU): A less percentage of students reach at the level of higher education and the seats are limited. We have to go beyond the idea of reservation.

QSFS, PSU supporters are facing the charges for stone-pelting. Do you condemn violence? Should cases against students be quashed? 

Ravinder Bir Randhawa (PUSU): The incident was a setback to the struggle, but the cases should be taken back. If SFS takes the credit for rollback of fee hike, they should take responsibility for the violence.

Ashish Rana (ABVP): Those who were guilty should face the trials. The SFS was responsible for the stone-pelting incident. We also sat on hunger strike, but our role is hardly acknowledged.

Iqbal Preet Singh (SOI): The cases should be taken back as several innocents are also involved. But the stone-pelting incident defamed the student activism. 

Kanupriya (SFS): When cases were filed against SFS supporters, no one stood by us. A similar protest had taken place in Punjabi University, but student bodies stood by each other. 

Amandeep (PSU): Our struggle led the authorities to take back the fee hike. The space for dissent was not given. The stone-pelting was a reaction to the police action against students.

QThe PU has attempted Ravinder Bir Randhawa (PUSU): The elderly and the specially-abled should be exempted from the ban which otherwise may prove to be a good step for the university. 

Ashish Rana (ABVP): Resources should be made available before enforcing the ban. e-rickshaw should be increased to an optimum level. The entry of outsiders should be banned. 

Iqbal Preet Singh (SOI): If the ban is to be implemented, it should be applicable to teachers also. First, it should be started on a trial basis and parking facilities should be given. 

Kanupriya (SFS): Four- wheelers should be banned with immediate effect. e-rickshaw rates must be decreased and passes must be given to the university students. 

Amandeep (PSU): Four-wheelers should be banned from entering the university campus. But before this, the PU should take steps to provide transport facilities.


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