Braving rains thousands of students marched through the city’s streets on Saturday demanding resignation of Jadavpur University (JU) vice-chancellor as West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi intervened to end the four-day old stalemate in the prestigious educational institution.
Students from Presidency University, Calcutta University and other educational institutions joined the march in a show of solidarity demanding resignation of JU VC Abhijit Chakrabarti after the alleged brutal police action on students inside JU campus in the early hours of Wednesday.
They were stopped by police near Mayo Road crossing in the heart of the city following which the students launched a sit-in at the spot demanding the VC’s resignation.
Representatives of students later had a two-hour-long meeting with governor, who intervened to end the stalemate.
A Raj Bhavan official said the governor, who also the chancellor of JU, advised the agitating students to maintain discipline and restore its ‘peaceful atmosphere’ from Monday.
“A delegation of seven students of Jadavpur University met the chancellor. They put forth their grievances. The chancellor patiently listened to them and advised them to maintain discipline and restore peaceful atmosphere in the university from Monday (September 22),” he said.
“The governor sir gave us a patient hearing. He expressed his moral support to our cause and said that he will look into each and every aspect including the barbaric police action on the students,” a JU students’ representative told reporters after the meeting at Raj Bhavan here.
The students, he said, have handed over a CD to Tripathi which has video clipping of the police action on the students.
“The governor sir sought time till Monday morning. So till then our academic strike will go on but we are withdrawing the sit-in (at Mayo Road) for the time being. We will again meet on Monday at 12 noon and decide our next course of action after seeing the steps taken by chancellor,” he said.
The students procession raised slogans against the police, the JU VC and Trinamool Congress government. It caused a traffic snarl in the city’s central business district.
“The government changes but the attitude of those who are in power never changes. In 2005 during the Left rule police too had beaten us inside the campus,” a protester said.
JU students have boycotted classes on their demand for the VC’s resignation. Those in the mass communication department have boycotted their examination on September 18.
Meanwhile, an apology attributed to the VC was posted on the university website, which official sources denied claiming it had been hacked.
“I am sorry” was the message posted on the website in VC Abhijit Chakrabarti’s page.
Registrar Pradip Ghosh clarified that he had spoken to the VC and Chakrabarti had not said anything of that sort.
“We have not done that. I have spoken to the VC who said he has not posted anything. The website is hacked. We will look into the matter,” Ghosh said.
Students had gheraoed the JU VC, registrar and other members of the executive council on the intervening night of September 16 and September 17 demanding a fresh probe panel to investigate the alleged sexual harassment of a girl student inside the campus on August 28.
The VC had said he feared for his life and called the police, who intervened to break the gherao in the wee hours of September 17, and arrested 35 students.
Many of the students alleged they were brutally beaten up by police inside the campus that night.
West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee had asserted that the state government would not tolerate student indiscipline under any circumstance and the impasse at JU could be solved through discussions and negotiations.
Kolkata police commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha had refuted allegations of the lathicharge and said the situation could have turned worse had police not intervened as there were reports of armed miscreants having entered the campus.