The Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan has asked the Centre to permanently deploy Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel on its campus.
Citing recent incidents of confrontation between the university administration and students and karamcharis (staff), Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Bidyut Chakrabarty made the request in a letter to the Union HRD Ministry last month. A copy of the letter was also marked to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The President is Visva-Bharati’s Visitor and the Prime Minister is its Chancellor.
In his letter, Chakrabarty is learnt to have said that the private security personnel currently employed by the university owe their allegiance to the “TMC local bosses” and, hence, “disobey” Visva-Bharati’s security officer “with impunity”. He has also said that whenever the security guards are pulled up for lapses, local TMC workers intervene to protect them.
Chakrabarty has cited the protest by students in May this year against the increase in the price of application forms. The students had held a sit-in protest, preventing faculty members and officials from leaving the university campus. The V-C has alleged that in such instances, the security guards “remained silent onlookers” and even created enabling conditions for the protesters.
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“Under these circumstances, this is an earnest request to you to help us get a contingent of CISF to smoothly run the administration, which is required to put Visva-Bharati back to rails. Given their steadfastness and commitment to the nation, the CISF jawans, like their counterparts elsewhere, shall be of great help to us in Visva-Bharati to bring back peace and tranquillity in the campus,” says the letter.
According to sources, the request is under consideration and the HRD Ministry may take it up with the CISF.
Currently, no central university has paramilitary forces or even police personnel deployed permanently on campus. However, the request isn’t unprecedented. In 2017, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) had made a similar request, claiming that its security was inadequate to handle such a huge campus. The request is still pending.
Deployment of paramilitary forces on educational campuses is a sensitive issue and often perceived to be an attack on the right to dissent or a way to pre-empt student protests.
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