About a month ago, students at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Patiala, went up in arms against the administration over a wide range of issues. It ranged from sexism on the campus to many forms of administrative malfunction.
On March 19, after a 100-hour-long protest on the campus, the college authorities finally conceded to students’ demands.
In a mutual agreement between the students’ representatives and vice chancellor Dr Paramjit S. Jaswal, the authorities sent adminstrative officer S.P. Singh on leave, shifted hostel in-timing for everyone to 12 am and allowed students to form their own council.
Since then, students say, there has been “a chilling atmosphere of threat and fear prevailing in the University amongst students and Class IV employees.”
In this regard, they addressed a letter to their chancellor, Justice Krishna Murari, detailing misogyny, casteism and general abuse of power by (now-suspended) S.P. Singh.
Misogyny and casteism
A few days before the peaceful protest at RGNUL, many female students had told Livewire about Singh’s sexist remarks anonymously, fearing individual targeting.
“The administrative officer has humiliated female students several times in front of other teachers with statements like “ye gender equality ka chashma utaaro,” “I identify you as girls before students” and so on. However, the administration has taken no action whatsoever against him thus far,” said a final year law student.
This letter compiles statements from numerous female students revealing more instances when Singh resorted to blatant misogyny on the campus.
“Drink karti ho, smoke toh karti hi hogi, chhote kapde bhi pehenti hogi. Tum iss hostel me ladkiyon ko bigadh rahi ho, rehna nahi dung[a] yahaan. Kalank ho tum yahaan pe!” (You drink, which means you must smoke also; I’m sure you also dress inappropriately. You are ruining the girls of this college, and I will not let you stay here. You are a disgrace!)”, the letter quoted Singh.
The letter also brings to light sexist statements made by hostel warden Shilpa Jain, university dean Anand Pawar, chief officer of the medical centre Gayatri Sharma and even the vice-chancellor Paramjit S. Jaiswal.
Singh, as pointed out in the letter, also has a history of making casteist remarks against Class IV employees. Besides, he has allegedly forced these employees to do his personal chores.
The letter quoted him as saying, “Tum choode chamaar logon ko kaam karna nhi aata, kahi bhi gand faila rakhi hai” (You, lower caste people, do not know how to work; you spread filth everywhere.)
However, the employees never filed a complaint against him fearing immediate rustication, says the student representation.
“Class IV employees were repeatedly pleading before us to not disclose their names or identities in any way or manner to the University authorities, while a few even broke down in tears – begging us to keep any information they provide to ourselves,” says the letter.
S.P. Singh’s past
Singh’s past, as highlighted in the letter, is replete with corruption and abuse of power. Students listed multiple news reports in order to back their claims.
For instance, in 2001, the state human rights commission recommended taking necessary action against Singh for allegedly being behind an attack on an undertrial prisoner. He was the deputy superintendent of the prison at the time.
Similarly, in 2005, the vigilance bureau arrested him on allegations that he misappropriated funds at a prison in Patiala.
One student, requesting anonymity, also questioned the appointment of Singh as the college’s administrative officer with such track record. He also pointed out the absence of rules and regulations governing the appointment of administrative officers on the campus.
The annexure attached with the letter details complaints and queries posed by students in this regard. The letter also mentioned that students had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application to further access Singh’s records but still haven’t received any response.
Expectations from the next administration officer
Taking note of Singh’s tenure on the campus and his indulgence in corrupt practices in the past, students proposed some reformatory measures. They stated that before the appointment of an administrative officer, the following things should be kept in mind:
- a thorough background check of the candidate;
- proper police clearance certification;
- there should be no criminal record;
- the candidate must have prior administrative experience in an educational institute.
Furthermore, it said that there should be a separation of powers and rules that govern the appointed officer’s functions. In this regard, the letter stated that student grievances should be resolved only by the dean student welfare.
Meanwhile, students say that they are busy drafting a constitution in order to form their own council which needs to be submitted by May 19, 2019.
Featured image credit: Twitter