Members of Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), the students’ wing of the ruling party that controls University of Calcutta (CU), on Wednesday heckled teachers and non-teaching employees while they were sitting on a demonstration protesting against the suspension of the varsity’s finance officer.
For the last few days, ‘Save University – Save Democracy’ — a forum of teachers and non-teaching staff — has been agitating over the abolishment of the post of financial officer and demanding the reinstatement of Harisadhan Ghosh, who was removed as finance officer a few days ago on charges of corruption.
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Claiming that Ghosh has been falsely implicated, the forum members have been sitting on a demonstration near the vice-chancellor’s office from noon to 4 pm every day since June 29. The stir is expected to continue till July 3.
“Today, we found our protest venue has been taken over by TMCP students. When Dibyendu Pal, the convenor of ‘Save Autonomy Save the University’ — the banner under which the protest was taking place — went to speak to them, they started beating him up. When another non-teaching staff went to save Pal, he was heckled as well. We had to take them to medical college for treatment,” said Souvik Mukherjee, a history professor of CU.
He added that later, TMCP supporters — mostly outsiders and some CU students — entered the Senate Hall where teachers were seated and started raising slogans. When they started heckling the forum members, Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das tried to intervene and he was manhandled as well, Mukherjee alleged. “We have submitted a written complaint about it to the V-C,” he said, adding that they will also lodge a complaint with the police.
Shyamal Chakraborty, a member of Save University-Save Democracy, said: “We have been agitating for the last few days over the demand of reinstatement of the financial officer Harisadhan Ghosh. We demanded that a white paper be published regarding the alleged scam that is being talked about. But nothing of that sort has been done.”
When contacted, the V-C said: “There was some commotion, which was immediately solved.” He refused to comment whether he was attacked.
National president of TMCP, Ashok Rudra, meanwhile, blamed the teachers for the incident. “Our students did not heckle them. The students were demonstrating and the teachers behaved like hooligans and attacked them. These teachers have been foul-mouthing the chief minster and the education minister, which we protested against,” he said.
Senior leader of TMCP in CU, Sumit Das, added: “We didn’t assault anyone. They have been trying to create disturbances for the last few days. So, we held peaceful meetings in the campus but were heckled by them. Two of our students were injured.”
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said, “Only because teachers are alleging something, doesn’t make it true. I have spoken to the V-C and asked him to submit a report regarding today’s incident to the principal secretary of the higher education department. When I asked the V-C whether he was heckled, he said he was not. We will not tolerate any indiscipline in the campus.”
While Left-backed students’ union SFI has called a students’ strike at CU colleges on Thursday, a protest will be held at College Square in Kolkata on July 3 where people have been invited to speak against Wednesday’s attack.