"Punjab University is not related at all to Chandigarh University, which is a private university and located in Mohali district, 25 km from Chandigarh."
Chandigarh University is now in the eye of the storm after its students staged massive protests demanding a fair probe into the alleged leak of private videos of 60 female students of the institution.
But the confusion over the names of the two institutions and inadvertent mix-ups between the two have left students and teachers of Panjab University perturbed.
"I have been receiving calls from my extended family and other friends asking if I was doing alright amid the video leak. I have been clarifying that this happened at another university. There was similar confusion during my admission last year as well."Ruchi Malhotra, pursuing BBA at Panjab University, told The Quint
The Tale of Two Universities
To put it simply, Chandigarh University is located in Punjab, and Panjab University is in Chandigarh.
Established in 1882 in Lahore, now in Pakistan, a new campus of Panjab University was built in Chandigarh between 1958 and 1960 under the supervision of Le Corbusier. Today, it is a central and state-funded university, located in Sectors 14 and 25 of Chandigarh, which is a Union Territory (UT) and the shared capital of Punjab and Haryana.
"Till the re-organisation of Punjab in 1966, the University had its regional centres at Rohtak, Shimla, and Jalandhar, and its affiliated colleges were located in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. With the re-organisation of Punjab, the University became an Inter-State Body Corporate catering to the newly organised states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh," the Panjab University website reads.
Since 1976, the university has been jointly funded by the governments of Chandigarh, Punjab, and the Centre, and is – to date – one of the oldest universities in independent India.
On the other hand, Chandigarh University is just about a decade old. It was established in 2012 by Satnam Singh Sandhu, who founded the Chandigarh Group of Colleges (CGC) in 2001. The university is located in the Kharar area of Mohali district, Punjab.
'Nomenclature Issue First Raised in 2018'
Chandigarh MP and BJP leader Kirron Kher on 18 September tweeted that the 'name' of her city was being tarnished due to the institution.
However, speaking to The Quint, Kanupriya, who was the Students' Union president of Panjab University for 2018-2019, said that the issue of names was first raised in a university senate meeting in 2018, but Kher took no action.
"I attended the senate meeting in November 2018, which was also attended by MP Kirron Kher. When the issue was raised in the zero hour, it was demanded that the Chandigarh administration issue a notice to the private university. But there was no action; it ended up being a rant. Now, it has resurfaced, with several people asking about the video leak incident. And I had to tell them that it did not happen in Panjab University."Kanupriya told The Quint
"It was raised in the first place because parents were getting confused in the rush to seek admission, and were admitting their children to Chandigarh University, thinking it was Panjab University. I joined the university in 2014, and I have seen it grow, whereas a large section of the population does not really understand which one is the private university and which one is the public one," Kanupriya added.
'Hurting the Brand Image of PU'
The Panjab University formed a nine-member committee to look into the matter after the senate meeting in 2018. In the two meetings since, the committee failed to take any decision, according to a member of the meeting.
The member, on the condition of anonymity, said: "We had raised the issue in the meeting to write letters to the Governor, Chandigarh Administration, and Punjab government, but till date, no action has been taken. We had also sought legal opinion but we failed to reach any decision for action."
Gurmeet Singh, head of the Hindi Department at Panjab University and a member of the university senate, said that he had raised the issue at least twice.
"Most universities in India are known by the place where they are located. If you look at Chaudhary Charan Singh University, it is known as Merut University, and Savitribai Phule University university is known as Pune University. Whenever we go to any place to deliver a lecture, people usually think that we are from Chandigarh University. Sometimes, when a new student is admitted to Chandigarh University, they think they are admitted to PU. But some of them come to PU after taking admission to Chandigarh University."
"You can't set up a Cambridge or Harvard in India. It is not some sweet shop that you can open anywhere," Gurmeet added.
The committee, in 2019, wanted a legal opinion before writing to the Punjab government and the UT administration with suggestions. M Rajivlochan, professor of the Department of History, PU, who was one of the committee members, told The Quint:
"The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, clearly states that we cannot use the name of states/UTs for private purposes without permission of authorities. We had raised the issue of the nomenclature of Chandigarh University as students filed admission forms of CU and reach PU and vice-versa. But no one has taken any action."
"But It is the duty of the Punjab government to stop violation of the Act as it enacted a law to set up a university in the name of Chandigarh," Rajivlochan added.
A current member of the Panjab University senate, on the condition of anonymity, told The Quint:
"It should first be investigated why there was no objection to the name in the first place, since it has impacted public opinion about the university – not only in people seeking admission but right now after the video leak fiasco. A lot of parents pay the deposit at Chandigarh University thinking it is Panjab University."
CU Founder Has Ties With BJP?
The CU campus is known to have been frequented by many BJP leaders, including Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Piyush Goyal, over the last few years.
On 13 August this year, Minister of State Meenakshi Lekhi attended a Guinness World Record event for the world's largest human formation of a waving national flag, as a part of the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' celebrations.
A day before the video leak incident came to light, Union Minister Smriti Irani donated blood at a camp organised by the CU.