Expressing solidarity with students protesting near the residence of Viswa-Bharati Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty over expulsion of three peers, JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh and SFI’s West Bengal chief Srijon Bhattacharya on Tuesday joined the demonstration in Birbhum. The student leaders said that the VC should immediately revoke the rustication order and change his “anti-student, undemocratic way of functioning” or put in his papers, as the agitation entered the fourth day.
Three students — two of them from the economics department and one pursuing music — were rusticated for three years on August 23 for disorderly conduct. A university official said the students were given a chance to defend their case before the enquiry commissioner appointed by the university, but they were “unapologetic”.
Ghosh, a national-level SFI leader, told reporters that she wanted to extend support to the three students who are staring at an uncertain future due to the “draconian decision” of the VC. “This cannot be allowed. We are pledging full support to the students of Visva-Bharati. In fact, from JNU to Visva-Bharati, whenever the VCs are appointees of the BJP government at the Centre, there are attempts to crush liberal views, impose one school of opinion,” Ghosh claimed.
She said it is for the students of the central university to decide what ways they will be adopting to take forward the protest, but the SFI will “continue to stand by them”. Bhattacharya, on his part, alleged that the decision by Visva-Bharati to temporarily suspend admission to UG and PG courses, in the wake of the protest, is aimed at showing the agitating students in a poor light.
In a notice on Monday, the university had said that the admission process was being put on hold as the VC, whose approval is routinely required, is currently under siege. A section of faculty members, known to be close to the VC, visited the site of the sit-in to broker peace between university authorities and students, but all efforts failed as the demonstrators stuck to their demand for revocation of the expulsion order.
“We came here on our own, as stakeholders. We don’t represent university authorities but we are concerned about the turn of events. We came here to see if talks can be initiated. They are our children,” one of the faculty members told reporters.