Two months after announcing the scrapping of the century-old Poush Mela, the Visva-Bharati University (VBU) authorities on Friday said that they were never against the holding of the annual fair on its campus and said it was ready to organise it this winter with everyone’s cooperation.
In a press release, the VBU said, “The controversy over organising Poush Mela is unjust. It has a very special place among Bengalis and their sentiment, and there cannot be a second opinion on this. If anyone reads the resolution adopted by the executive council of the institute and Santiniketan Trust, then it will be clear that the institute never wanted to stop organising the fair.”
“It is our request to all those who are passionate about Santiniketan to come forward and restore the old glory of Poush Mela. Come with an open mind. Provide physical labour and financial assistance,” it added.
In July this year, breaking the 125-year tradition, the Executive Council (EC) of the university decided to scrap the Poush Mela altogether with Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty claiming that the university was “ill-equipped” to handle such an event.
Poush Mela is a handicraft, handloom, art and music festival held in the Bengali month of Poush, usually December-end. Rabindranath Tagore’s father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore first organised the fair in 1894, and Visva-Bharati, the university founded by the Nobel laureate, started organising it from 1951.
Notably, the reversal in the central university’s stand comes two days after BJP-nominated Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta — who is also a member of Visva-Bharati court, the university’s policy-making body — called for holding the Poush Mela this year under the supervision of the Central government.
“Poush Mela should be held following the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore and Visva-Bharati. The entire fair should be managed by the Central government,” Dasgupta said at a webinar on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, PTI reported that Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty during a meeting with the institute’s non-teaching employees said the university is ready to organise the fair if it gets financial help from the Union government. Chakraborty said that since Visva-Bharati does not have the financial means to organise Poush Mela on a big scale, the university would request help from the Centre, according to PTI.
“The V-C also said that going by the experience in the past two years, the university needs assurance from everyone concerned that there will be full compliance of the guidelines of National Green Tribunal (NGT) and Pollution Control Board,” an Executive Council member, who was present at the virtual meeting, was quoted as saying by PTI.
On August 17, the university was shut down following vandalism on the campus over fencing around the Poush Mela ground. A large group of residents and traders, led by TMC leaders, demolished the university gates and ransacked construction material brought to build a wall around the ground. Eight people were arrested in connection with the incident. The university, later, sought a CBI probe into it.
With PTI Inputs
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