New Delhi: Bennett University, owned by The Times Group, has instructed its students and their parents to sign an undertaking that they wouldn’t participate, support or promote any type of “anti-national” or “anti-social activity” within or outside the campus, Scroll.in has reported.
The university administration stated that the directive was in line with an order from the Uttar Pradesh government.
“Keeping in view to the directives received from the state government, you are required to provide an additional undertaking in the attached form duly signed by yourself and your parent,” an email sent out to students on March 14 said.
Located in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida, Bennett University was established in 2016, and has 2,500 students. The vision of the university is to become a “centre of excellence comparable to the Ivy League standards”.
However, one of the “anti-national” activities defined in the undertaking includes “participating in an unlawful gathering or protest”.
When asked about the directive, Colonel Guljit Singh Chadha (retired), registrar of the university, said, “This is a directive which is passed by the state government. It is an umbrella act by the UP state government under which… it is a statutory requirement by the state government.”
In June 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government came up with an Ordinance that made it mandatory for new and existing private universities to give an undertaking that they wouldn’t involve in “anti-national activity”. It said the objectives of the universities should be to promote national integration, secularism, social harmony, international goodwill, moral building and desh bhakti (patriotism).
Given that the said Ordinance referred to universities and not students and their parents, Chadha said, “How will the university enforce [the ordinance] until and unless they are not duty-bound. There is a directive by the UP government that percolates down to the students and whoever is coming for admission. They have to abide by that.”
According to the university administration email, “anti-national activity” is something “which is unlawful in the opinion of the university”. To explain this further, the university administration described “anti-national activity” as:
- To be a part of any unlawful activity, on whatsoever grounds, which may lead to or incite violence against the state or other people.
- Any unlawful thoughts or actions leading to cessation or secession of any territorial part of India or any action which is against the national interest.
- Any activity which disclaims, questions, threatens, disrupts, or is intended to disrupt the sovereignty or integrity and unity of India, including its security.
- Any unlawful activity, which is intended, or which is part of a scheme, which is intended to overthrow by force the government, create internal disturbance or disrupting of public services and threatens to disrupt peace, security, public order, safety, harmony amongst regional groups or castes or communities.
- Participate in any unlawful gathering or protest.
Therefore, anyone found involved in such “anti-national activity” is deemed to be indulging in a “major violation” by the university administration. Such an errant student would face grave consequences, including immediate expulsion from the college.
The university administration also said it has the “unfettered right” to report such activity to any law enforcement agency. It also instructed those signing the undertaking to “immediately bring to the knowledge of the university if any other student or professor has indulged in anti-national activity”.