Agitating students of Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, who have launched a sit-in near the official residence of Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty, on Tuesday allegedly stopped his vehicle when it came out of the quarters.
The students, protesting against the rustication of three of their fellow students since August 27, rushed to the white sedan as it came out of the gate and stopped it, a university official said.
An earlier report, quoting the official, had said that the students had searched the car which had no occupant except the driver.
‘Visva-Bharati Chhatra-Chhatri Oikyo’, the platform of the protesting students, claimed in a statement that they had only rushed to the car, mistaking that the VC was sitting inside, and did not carry out any search.
Maintaining that the students had exchanged few words with the driver of the VC’s car, the statement said a section of the media had wrongly reported the incident.
One of the students said “the VC has not met us in all these 11 days. He is inside his residence ‘Purbita’. He did not even accept our bouquet on Teachers Day when we would have urged him to revoke the expulsion order as we are like his children. Hence, we had to check if he was seated in the car, and we found he was not there.”
Describing the action of the students as “uncalled for”, the official said, “It is an intrusion into privacy.”
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said the alleged action of students to stop the vehicle of a teacher was “unethical and illegal”.
The expelled students and a member of the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) Sudipto Bhattacharya were holding a relay hunger strike since Sunday at the dharna ‘manch’, located 60 metres away from the main entrance of the VC’s residence.
In an interim order, the Calcutta High Court on September 3, said protests cannot be held within 50 metres of either the academic and administrative buildings on the campus of the central university or the VC’s residence.
The VBUFA also held a rally from the post office more in Bolpur to Santiniketan to express solidarity with the students, Bhattacharya, one of the teachers to have been suspended by the Vice-Chancellor, said.
The VBUFA sent a letter to Union Education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday drawing his attention “to a series of serious problems and pressing issues resulting from the whimsical and autocratic action of the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Bidyut Chakrabarty, which in turn have been adversely affecting the teaching, learning and research atmosphere in the campus.”
Referring to the rustication of three students, the letter said, they were suspended for eight months and then rusticated for three years.
“This led to an agitation by students near the VC’s residence located at an extreme end of the campus. To the best of our knowledge, the agitation did not disrupt any activity of the central office, teaching, etc. Being in such a responsible position, the VC did not take any initiative to solve the problem,” noted the faculty body, which had been on a warpath with the VC.
While the VC did not receive calls, a Visva-Bharati official said some teachers associated with the body had faced charges of violation of service rules by leaking confidential information, and hence disciplinary action was taken against them, pending further inquiry.
The official iterated the three students were expelled on the charge of disorderly conduct on campus during a protest meeting in January and they were continuing such activities even after being put under suspension for two terms.
However, the students and VBUFA maintained that the action by the university was vindictive.
An organisation of theatre activists in Bolpur visited the demonstrators and sang several choir numbers of Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) while the police and university security personnel kept vigil from a distance.
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