Condemning attack on Dr. Surjit, offer unwavering support to the Professor and his family
Chandigarh, Sept 17, 2023 (Yes Punjab News)
Several academics and professionals have condoled the death of Punjabi University student Jashandeep Kaur. They have also condemned the assault on the University professor and demanded a thorough probe.
A statement issued by these well-known academicians and professionals is reproduced below:
Nothing can be more heartbreaking than the death of a young student who had fought her frail health to reach a premier university, was forced to opt out because of her affliction, and was now taking one more shot at academics when we lost her in extremely tragic circumstances.
First and foremost, we condole the death of Ms Jashandeep Kaur, a first-year student of FYIP stream at Punjabi University, Patiala, and pay tribute to her indomitable spirit to trudge the world of academics when, apart from much else, she also had to fight asthma that made even the most innocuous task of regular uninterrupted breathing an insurmountable odd for her. All of us need to take a breath and acknowledge that she will always remain an inspiration.
We also take this opportunity to condemn in the strongest terms the assault and mob-lynching of Professor Dr. Surjit by hoodlums, that, too, on the university campus, on September 14, 2023, in full public view and under the glare of cell phone cameras.
That Dr. Surjit was grievously injured and faced ignominious insults is a fact too well known by now. Dirtiest terms of abuse, laced with four-letter words, were hurled at him in a language that we proclaim as the gift of the Gurus and the lingua franca of our hymns and glorious politics of resistance – all of it happening in front of the very department where he has taught innumerable cohorts of students and carved a name for himself for commitment to academic rigor and excellence. That he was beaten in the presence of a few of his students, who were trying to shield him, will forever remain singed in the institutional memory of these days when we lost a precious life.
Sadly, the assault on a professor is being justified in the name of fighting for a dead Jashandeep Kaur. We think it is akin to insulting the memory of the deceased. It is heartening that many professors of this university as well as academics from across Punjab and elsewhere have risen in solidarity and have condemned such motivated targeting and mob lynching on the campus.
The circumstances surrounding this attack are deeply distressing. Having come to know of students’ concerns and reservations following the death of Ms Kaur, Dr Surjit wanted to address these directly but was advised against it. He was later accosted by mischievous elements and assaulted gravely, and had to be rushed to a hospital where he continues to be in the ICU, struggling for life when we write these lines.
As academics, professionals, and concerned citizens, we do recognize the importance of addressing such allegations with sensitivity and empathy, and expect our academic institutions to provide an environment where grievances can be heard and impartially investigated.
However, spilling a professor’s blood on the campus soil was no tribute to Ms Jashandeep Kaur. No protest, no academic approach, and no idea of a university is synonymous with violence and physical harm to professors, teachers or students.
Any university is expected to work towards fashioning a society wedded to resisting mob lynching, hatred, and polarization. So, we expect all-round condemnation of the assault on any academic, irrespective of divergent ideological positions or politics.
Mob violence, hate, and polarisation have always proven to be counter-productive. Those sections of society that can foresee the far-reaching impact of such acts should be more sensitive and responsible, and must never side with any act of mob justice. We staunchly advocate the principles of peaceful dialogue, open communication, and adherence to the rule of law as the appropriate avenues to address grievances.
The assault on Dr. Surjit represents a serious transgression of these principles and contradicts the cherished values of our academic community.
Additionally, the authorities, who were duty-bound to maintain order and safeguard the well-being of everyone on the campus, should have anticipated the situation. The question stands if they indeed acted proactively to pre-empt an untoward situation. Ensuring the safety of all members of the academic community, particularly in cases of heightened tension and emotion, is their responsibility.
*We strongly urge the authorities to conduct a comprehensive, impartial and time-bound investigation into this incident, ensuring that all responsible parties are held accountable for their actions. We also demand a fuller probe to understand why and in what circumstances we lost Ms Jashandeep Kaur. We want these learnings to be made available publicly and as a template for the future so that we never ever suffer such a loss.*
*In our academic institutions, violence must not have any place, and it is of utmost importance that those involved in such acts face due legal consequences. Additionally, we recommend that the university publicly disclose the guidelines regarding medical leave for students to enhance transparency and awareness.*
During this difficult period, we offer our unwavering support to Prof. Surjit and his family, and also legions of his students. No one should ever have to endure such a traumatic experience while simply addressing a concerned audience. We sincerely hope for Prof. Surjit’s speedy physical and emotional recovery and are prepared to provide assistance to him and his family in any way possible.
We want to reaffirm our strong condemnation of the violent attack and underscore our unwavering dedication to preserving the values of peace, respect, and academic integrity within our community.
We also urge the legal authorities to investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action against the miscreants who attacked Prof. Surjit. We not only owe it to the sacred traditions of academics but also to the memory of Ms. Jashandeep Kaur. Her death is too tragic to be allowed to be exploited by vested interests.
*SIGNATORIES TO THE STATEMENT*
Dr. Kuldip Puri, Educationist and formerly Professor, PU, Chandigarh
Dr. Rabindranath Sharma, former Senator and Professor, PU, Chandigarh
Dr. Pankaj Srivastava, Chairperson, Deptt of Philosophy, PU, Chandigarh
Prof Lallan Baghel, Faculty, Deptt of Philosophy, PU, Chandigarh
Prof Akshay Kumar, Faculty, Deptt of English, PU, Chandigarh
Prof Mohd Khalid, formerly Professor, Deptt of Political Science, PU, Chandigarh
Dr. JC Mehta, Senator, PU, Chandigarh
Dr. Jasbir Singh, Faculty, Deptt of History, PU, Chandigarh
Dr. Rajesh Jaiswal, Faculty, USOL, PU, Chandigarh
Dr. Harmail Singh, Faculty, USOL, PU, Chandigarh
Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu, Historian & Director, “Adaara 23 March” (ਅਦਾਰਾ 23 ਮਾਰਚ)
Dr Areet Kaur, former Director, Health Services, Punjab | Social Activist
Shabdish, Playwright & Poet
Randeep Kranti, Film Maker, Chandigarh
Balwinder Singh Vicky, Theatre Artiste
Jagdish Chander, Theatre Activist
Shiv Inder Singh, Senior Journalist/Editor-in-chief Suhi Saver
Arshdeep Arshi, Senior Journalist, Anchor & Activist
Dr. Sumandeep, Faculty, PEC, Chandigarh
Dr Balvinder, Faculty, Punjabi Deptt, PU, Chandigarh
Rajeev Godara, Activist & Advocate, Pb & Hry High Court, Chandigarh
Vipin, Advocate, Pb & Hry High Court
Joginder Sharma, Advocate, Pb & Hry High Court
Beni Thomas, Advocate, Pb & Hry High Court
Harish Mehla, Advocate, Pb & Hry High Court
Adv. Soumya, Activist, Chandigarh
Harbans Singh Sidhu, former Chairperson, PSEB
Kanwaljeet Singh, Research Scholar, Deptt of Philosophy, PU, Chandigarh
Sachin Jaswal, Research Scholar, Deptt of Philosophy, PU, Chandigarh
Yamini Bhutani, Research Scholar, Deptt of Philosophy, PU, Chandigarh
Vishnu, Student Activist, PU, Chandigarh