Bringing the curtains down on the four-month-long unrest at Jadavpur University (JU), Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Abhijit Chakraborty on Monday agreed to step down from the post following West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s intervention.
Mamata Banerjee arrived at JU around 5 pm and within half an hour she came out of the administrative building to announce that the V-C has volunteered to resign. “I spoke to the V-C and he informed me that an unrest is going on and he doesn’t want the academic atmosphere to get vitiated further. He wants peace and so he is resigning,” she told the students, who have been demanding V-C’s resignation.
The protesting students — including the 16 who had been on indefinite hunger strike since January — welcomed the announcement with screams of joy.
“I took an initiative myself. Classes were not going on for four months. An agitation was on. Considering the future of the students and those who were on strike, I took this initiative,” the CM added.
Mamata said that Chakraborty has sent an SMS to state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and expressed his willingness to step down. Sources, however, claimed that Mamata had called the V-C and asked him to put in his papers.
The students hailed it as a moral victory. However, they rued that this should have happened earlier. “The CM came after over four months of our agitation and accepted our demand. Initially, the state had not only backed the V-C fiercely, but also tried to curb our movement in every way possible. The unique thing about this decision is that we fought unitedly as students, without taking the help of any party,” said Chiranjeet Ghosh, general secretary of Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students’ Union (FETSU).
Ghosh, while maintaining that regular classes will be held from Tuesday, said a victory march will be taken out the same day at 3 pm.
The students had gheraoed the V-C, registrar and others on the intervening night of September 16 and 17 last year demanding a fresh probe panel to investigate the alleged sexual harassment of a girl student on the campus on August 28. The V-C called the police to break the gherao. In the lathicharge that ensued, many students were brutally beaten up on the campus and 35 students were arrested.
The agitation reached its high point when 13 students started a hunger strike on January 5 with a five-point charter of demands including the resignation of the V-C whom they held responsible for the police crackdown on them.