Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was on Friday greeted with slogans and black flags at Presidency University by a section of students, who later gheraoed Vice-Chancellor Anuradha Lohia, while alleging that they were manhandled by the CM’s security team.
As Mamata entered the campus to attend the inaugural ceremony of Presidency’s third convocation at Derozio Hall, she was greeted with placards and wall writing which stated that the CM was not welcome. As the students locked the main gate of the college, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee had to take a taxi to leave the campus through the back gate.
While speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Mamata said: “Do I have to be accountable why I have come here? They have invited me. Why shouldn’t I go (to the campus)? There is no reason to think that everyone should like me. But why won’t I come?”
Without naming the students, she said: “There is a word called courtesy in a democracy. Everyone has to maintain discipline.” Later, Mamata walked out of the university and reached Calcutta University Institute Hall on College Street. She also tweeted in the meantime, saying: “Since I was associated with students movement in the past, I respect students movement, I support their genuine cause… political purpose should not stand in the way… institutions are above everything.”
While Mamata was leaving, her security team allegedly entered into a scuffle with the protesting students. “We were protesting peacefully inside our campus when some policemen assaulted some students. Eight of us were injured,” said Trisha Chanda, general secretary of students’ union PUSA, said.
The protesting students — affiliated to Presidency University Students Association (PUSA) and SFI — said they wanted to speak to Mamata seeking punishment to those responsible for the ransack of heritage Baker Laboratory of the varsity during a 2013 incident but were not allowed to talk to her.
The students later went to the V-C’s room and started an indefinite gherao in the evening, demanding her resignation. “We told the V-C what has happened but she is not willing to accept that the police thrashed us. We seek an apology from the police and the resignation of our V-C for non-action,” Chanda said.
They defaced the nameplate outside Lohia’s door with black ink, wrote ‘ex’ before vice-chancellor and also replaced the word professor with ‘oppressor’.
When contacted, Lohia said there was no question for her resigning. “I had not called the police in the campus and have no idea if students were manhandled. Why should I resign?” she asked. The university students have decided to boycott the convocation on Saturday.
Students of Jadavpur University (JU) came out in support of their Presidency counterpart. “We strongly condemn this and demand the immediate resignation of the V-C. The usage of state machinery on intelligencia time to time reveals the fascist times that we live in. We appeal to all the students to rise against fascism and police atrocity,” a statement by JU students said.
Presidency to get campus in Kurseong
The Presidency University will soon have a campus at Kurseong in Darjeeling district devoted to the study of biodiversity and ecology of the Himalayas.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the new campus will be set up at Dow Hill at Kurseong and be known as ‘Himalayan Institute’. She announced that the state government will give Rs 118 crore for another campus of the varsity coming up on a 10-acre plot at Rajarhat.
Mamata, during her visit to the campus, announced various grants for the university. While handing over a cheque of Rs 30 crore to the Presidency for the new campus, Mamata announced that Rs 10 crore has been approved for the university’s beautification and Rs 1.78 crore for upgradation of its library. ENS