JASWANT SINGH GANDAM / RAMAN NEHRA
India Post News Service
PHAGWARA: A few days after a 21-year-old woman hosteller of Lovely Professional University (LPU) Phagwara had tested positive for coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), the Punjab government issued a show-cause notice on 16 April to the university for violating lockdown/curfew instructions of the government of India under Epidemic Act and its order under section 144 of Cr Pc for the closure of educational institutions across India, asking the university to explain as to why its N.O.C.(no objection certificate) should not be revoked.
The notice reminds LPU that minister of higher education Punjab had ordered the suspension of all kind of teaching work in all educational institutions, including private, in the state of Punjab on 13/3/2020,which was widely covered by all the newspapers dated 14/3/2020..
When contacted, Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Smt Deepti Uppal, confirmed that LPU was issued a show-cause notice, she informed that a copy of the same was received by her on the next day.
In the notice, the state higher education and language department asked LPU, which also has foreign students on its rolls, to explain within seven days, why the no objection certificate issued to it should not be withdrawn for violating government orders and endangering the lives of 3,200 people, and many more.
The notice said that the Punjab higher education minister had ordered the suspension of teaching in all institutions, including private ones, on March 13. “It has now come to light that in spite of the instructions, ignoring the gravity of the situation and jeopardising the lives of about 3,200 people and thousands of others to which infection can spread, you did not shut down completely,” it said.
“Considering the highly infectious nature of the disease and despite the fact that there was sufficient time for you to send all students to their respective homes from March 13 to March 22, but for no reasons you continued with the functioning of the university and the hostels and made no effort to send them to their homes,” it said.
The notice further reminds university, ”The National Security Council of Prime minister of India issued guidelines vide no. GAD-CRODO-MEET/4/2020/GC-2-466 dated 17/3/2020 under prevention and control of Infectious Diseases(measures within the infected local areas) Regulations 2020 and u/s2 of it, it was advised to stay home and to maintain Social Distancing as the Govt. of India and its states are considering the COVID-19 under Disaster Management Act 2005 and Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, and hence it is a medical emergency and it was widely published.
It said: “It might be argued by you that the movement of students was not possible in the light of the complete lockdown. There is no denying the fact that norms about maintaining social distancing were flouted and the administration was informed that the university was shut and vacated, while that was not the case. It is amply clear that you did not pay heed to instructions of the district administration on March 23 and kept it in the dark. When the world is battling this deadly virus and the only remedy is complete isolation, your administration threw all instructions to the winds and put hundreds of lives at risk.”
Referring to the 21-year-old Maharashtra student testing positive on April 12, the notice said: “There was a corona positive case in your institution and that too was not handled in right earnest. The university authorities did not cooperate with the district administration and health department in sending the patient to hospital. It is clear from above that your conduct and response of university has been extremely callous and irresponsible.”
At present, the student is undergoing treatment at Kapurthala civil hospital.
The notice also mentioned that the issue of the university functioning despite the lockdown had been raised by “some dignitaries”.
Former Union minister and Ex-Hoshiarpur BJP MP Vijay Sampla and Kapurthala ruling party MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh respectively earlier this week.
The duo have argued to take cognizance of LPU violation of lockdown guidelines in the same as was taken with the Tablighi Jamaat.
Meanwhile, LPU Director Aman Mittal could not be contacted for LPU version despite repeated attempts.