The sixth annual convocation of Presidency University, which was scheduled for Tuesday, has been suspended for an indefinite period after protesting students blocked the main gate of the varsity’s College Street campus on Monday morning. The protesters did not allow Vice-Chancellor Anuradha Lohia and Registrar Debojyoti Konar to enter.
A portion of the convocation will instead be held at Nandan III on Tuesday, where university authorities will confer honourary DLitt on veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee and honorary DSc on eminent scientist and Bharat Ratna recipient C N R Rao.
A governing body meeting to discuss preparations for the convocation on Tuesday could not be held due to the protest. Varsity authorities then tried to hold the convocation at Raj Bhawan, but could not do so due to security arrangments.
Raj Bhawan sources said Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who is also the Chancellor, is unlikely to attend the event at Nandan III.
A large poster on the gate read, “Presi is closed, hostel is being renovated”. Only students were allowed to enter the campus.
A section of students have been living in the College Street campus, demanding that they be relocated to Hindu Hostel, which has been undergoing renovation work.
After being denied entry, Lohia said, “Can a group of students take over a campus and put it under lock and key? Can they be called students at all? This is sheer anarchy. I cannot build the roof over the hostel. The experts are working on it.”
Education minister Partha Chatterjee, said, “These agitators have inherited the legacy of raising slogans and campaigning at factory gates from 34 years of Left rule. But Presidency University is an educational institution, not a factory. I had been stating all along that Hindu hostel issue should be treated expeditiously and sympathetically. But it is up to varsity authorities to decide.”
Over 750 students were scheduled to receive degrees and four were scheduled to be awarded their PhD.
“The authorities have been saying hostel is undergoing renovation work, but we have found out that two of six blocks are suitable for use. With no solution in sight, we bolted the main gate in the morning, demanding we be allowed to put up in the two blocks,” a student said.